Arts | Exploring The Nowannago: Kentifrican Modes of Resistance
Navigating the Historical Present is a mantra for Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle’s practice in which she creates performative situations to illustrate how she grapples with the residue of history related to the context of exploring the exotification and exploitation of the Black female body. Within her Kentifrica Project, Hinkle conducted extensive research and recreated an artifact called the Nowannago to be used as a symbol of navigating the historical present. The Nowannago is akin to the Oroborus, the serpent that eats its tail within ancient Egyptian mythology. The fight with time, spatiality and social dynamics creates a never-ending cycle in which oppositional parties have to grapple with their issues.
The exhibition Exploring The Nowannago: Kentifrican Modes of Resistance will serve as an ongoing stage and installation for video and performance featuring Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle and Tyler Matthew Oyer. This body of work involves a Kentifrican narrative that provides a social critique of how we are chained to the residue of the past and how bodies that are deemed the “other” through labels of queerness, racial constructions and gender constructions are treated.
A tug of war will ensue during the performance in which the Nowannago will be used to illustrate the complex push and pull of realities within historical and contemporary hegemonic impulses that seek to condemn bodies that are misunderstood. The Nowannago, the double noose, is an instrument integral to Kentifrican presence in relationship to encounters with cultures that were intrusive and different from their own. The double noose was used as a forced mating ritual between a British or Portuguese trader and a Kentifrican woman. Kentifrica, as geography, has never been formally colonized. Due to a deadly poisonous plant called the Yahwaseen located on the coast of West Kentifrica, discovery was limited to a few small nearly visible ports along the northern and eastern coasts. It was near these ports that Kentifrican individuals found themselves abducted to be a part of the slave trade and brought to North and South America. The noose became known as a Nowannago from few witnesses who managed to escape the deadly game.
The ritual’s rules of engagement were carried out in the following manner:
• A European man and a Kentifrican woman were tied together with a double noose.
• If the Kentifrican woman succeeded in killing her captor she won her freedom.
• If she did not succeed she became the man’s concubine throughout the voyage and upon arrival.
This contemporary performance and exhibition with the Nowannago at Grand Central Art Center will transcend the boundaries of Kentifrica as a geography to serve as an abstract confrontation with the following issues and movements plaguing our local and global societies: The Black Lives Matters Movement, the current human trafficking trade, LGBTQ awareness, immigration reform, prison reform, white supremacy, genocide, xenophobia, etc.
As we are now witnesses to this exhibition and/or the performance, and its evolving space of participatory action, the artists invite you to respectfully add names, with the chalk provided, of those who have died at the hands of hate crimes, police brutality, human trafficking, and other unjustified actions that have taken place in our society.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer and performer. Her practice fluctuates between collaborations and participatory projects with alternative gallery spaces within various communities to projects that are intimate and based upon her private experiences in relationship to historical events and contexts. A term that has become a mantra for her practice is the “Historical Present,” as she examines the residue of history and how it affects our contemporary world perspective. Her artwork and experimental writing has been exhibited and performed at: The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Project Row Houses in Houston, TX; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA; The Museum of Art at The University of New Hampshire; and The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. Hinkle was the youngest artist to participate in the multi-generational biennial Made in LA 2012. The artists work have been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Artforum, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times. Hinkle was listed on The Huffington Post’s Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know. She is also the recipient of several fellowships and grants including: The Cultural Center for Innovation’s Investing in Artists Grant, Social Practice in Art (SPart-LA), Jacob K Javits Fellowship for Graduate Study, The Fulbright Student Fellowship, and The Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s Emerging Artists Award. Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is represented by Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, CA and New York City.
Called an “interdisciplinary gospel immortalist” by Kembra Pfahler of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Tyler Matthew Oyer is an artist, writer, and organizer based in Los Angeles. He has presented work at: MoMA PS1 in New York; REDCAT in Los Angeles; dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany; Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Kunstnernes Hus Oslo in Oslo, Norway; Art Basel Miami Beach in Florida; Bergen Kunstall in Bergen, Norway; Rogaland Kunstsenter in Stavanger, Norway; The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London, UK; High Desert Test Sites in Yucca Valley, CA; Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica; Human Resources in Los Angeles; and the Orange County Museum of Art. He has written works of performance including GONE FOR GOLD, Shimmy Shake Earthquake, and 100 Years of Noise: Beyoncé is ready to receive you now. Oyer is represented by Cirrus Gallery and his work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (NY). Oyer is the founder of tir journal, an online platform for queer, feminist, and underrepresented voices. He received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2012. He is currently working on his first movie, Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide.