Another night comes to an end
A new day arrives in song and dance
Libation loosing spirits
Praises rise to the heavens
And we are renewed
Libation is more than a dance party. It is a space where we gather to escape the individual and celebrate the connectedness that is community. The music is global soul that begs your attention. The experience is not a passive drug fueled exploration. But a collective journey into ancient traditions of fellowship through dance and music. This thanks giving celebration is attended by a diverse blend of new yorks cosmopolitan masses. Twice a month the pilgrimage is made to the sullivan room in New York's west village. Tonight was no different than other times I've come to share in this sensory feast. However this was to be one of those rare occasions that I stayed until the very end. As 4am approaches the tempo and urgency of the music slows and the orchestrated set soothes us into a meditative state. We who are intent on wringing every note from the evening transcend and dance as if we alone are in the room. The lights slowly brighten. The crowd thins to a handful. We are a mixture of the crew that makes the night happen and those who appreciate the blessing of good music and the freedom to experience it with our whole being.
Thank you Ian Friday, Manchildblack, Afromosaic Soul and the Libation Family!
When last I was here I clung close to my fathers side. My brother Harold the shadow I trailed. Everything was new and different. They teased us as children do. Our accents were oh so different and pure Yankee boy talk. Here now as the adult me. I stand alone surrounded by many. Settled into a comfortable wonder of the familiarity and strangeness of it all. South Florida and SA combined with a little Lagos thrown in for good measure.
I spoke with a friend today who resides in Chicago. It seems we keep calling each other at inconvenient moments. This time he was on his way to see Fruitvale Station. We said we'd catch up later and disconnected the call. The call had ended but his destination still rang in my head. I was feeling a little guilty at having not seen the movie. I mean we all know how the story ends and frankly my spirit is exhausted from collective pain, angst and anger. I called another friend and we shared a lighter moment, but now my uncomfortableness was beginning to grow. I mentioned this to my friend and she understood how I felt. She to was dreading the heaviness of spirit that would further impact our individual and collective psyche. We commiserated and acknowledged the importance of supporting this film and its creators. I equaled it to the tension and apprehension you feel at having to attend a funeral. We never want to go, but we do because we must. So, I checked the movie schedule at the Magic Johnson Theatre here in Harlem, showered, dressed and made my way from 151st to 125th street. What a gorgeous day, almost to beautiful to sit inside a movie theatre. I bought my ticket and a large popcorn. I Settled into my seat and waited for the film to start. As the film started I breathed a sigh of relief force having made it through the first unsettling scene (actual cell phone footage of Oscar Grant being shot by a police officer). As I relaxed into this world I smiled at a playful young father. A son who adored his mother. A boyfriend fighting for love and life. A man who made some mistakes and struggled to get it together. I saw in his eyes pain, anger and danger. There were moments where I judged his choices. I wondered why he went down the path that he chose. He made me think about the young men in my life ( nephews, cousins and friends) all of us a decision away from incarceration or legal drama. Systems within systems that will turn you inside out. By the time Oscar was on his way home from New Year's Eve celebrations I was in his corner and he was a member of my family. By the tIme he drew his last breath and his mother begged to hold him one last time, I was Oscar and he was me. I left a part of myself in that darkened theatre. The tears streamed down my face, because I understood at a cellular level that the only difference between Oscar and me was nothing more than luck and the Grace of God.
There are more stirrings sparked from this cinematic moment. I give what I can for now and committ to sharing more later. Forgive me, but I'm still dazed and hurt by this experience.
"Art should touch us in our soul places." -Antonio Lyons
I'm really looking forward to checking this out. There's so much happening at any given moment in New York. Randomly stumbled across this poster whilst walking by a restaurant in Brooklyn last night. It was posted in the window.
Who I am, who we are is a hodgepodge of genetics, a pearl of consciousness, our environment and a string of experiences that help to shape us at any given moment in time. A pearl of consciousness is the eternal center of self that I believe we all are born into the world possessing. This constant part of self is always there and serves as the foundation of our very being. This consciousness is impacted by our everyday experiences as we grow our identity options. Sometimes the crafting of identity is a conscious process, but often it is an unconscious reshaping reacting to the world around us. The carefree spirit can be diminished by tragedy. The complacent can be motivated into action by a change inspiring catalyst. The drug addict re-calibrated by the birth of a child. The depressed transformed through music, prayer or any divine moment. The banner above speaks to the cultural kinship that has and is shaping the who that I am. Those flags come with histories and traditions, memories and blood, laughter and determination, language and dance, a new breath, a healing heart and a certainty of self.
This present self is balancing the life of a professional commercial artist and that of an Artivist. I'm learning that Artivist aren't created, but born and called into action. My very soul begs me to speak about the world I live in and to motivate for change. I am the curious student eager to learn the others story and allow my world to be enriched by another's truths.
**The curious student approach was extended to me by artivist/applied theatre practitioner, Keith Johnston
(artist +activist) uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary