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In Vigil, black feminist performance artist Gabrielle Civil will offer a durational live stream performance from sunset to sunrise. Part wake, part welcoming, part window into transformation, this experience will happen in real time and witnesses/participants can come and go as they please. To help us process the cataclysm of the last year, Vigil will open a space to commune, witness, testify, play, and rest. Civil will alternate between solo tasks of world-building (moving, altar-making, spirit writing) and compassionate audience interaction (listening, prompting, blessing). At key moments, guest artists will also drop by to swap stories, sound, sway, and hold vigil with her. Things might get heavy or light, abrupt or endless. Throughout, everyone will be charged to preserve beloved space. Virtual space holders will help maintain community standards of respect and care. Mixing day and night, light and dark, Vigil will alchemize isolation and connection, grief and joy.
This project will include live transcription in English.
Audiences will be invited to keep their cameras on. There will be moments to directly engage.
Gabrielle Civil is a black feminist performance artist, poet, and writer, originally from Detroit MI. Her performance memoirs include Swallow the Fish (2017), Experiments in Joy (2019), ( ghost gestures ) (2021) and the déjà vu (2022). The aim of her work is to open up space.
Notes for Vigil
how are you doing?
how have you been?
I’ve missed seeing you around . . .
although I know you’ve been out there
I’ve sensed you onscreen
even with the camera off
I know you’re there
I’ve felt you
I’m holding / up / still
I keep trying / to understand
how to hold this / time
how can we hold this time?
hold each other / through this time?
will you hold vigil / this time with me?
from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness,
a period of purposeful sleeplessness,
an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance
– sequences of holding, breathing, watching, grieving,
chatting, moving, making, remembering & imagining. . .
– a state of being in intimacy with isolation
– a state of emerging togetherness within virtual space
– an alchemical ritual of grief and joy
images: bottle tree photos by Lewis Raven Wallace; all other photos and screenshot collage by Gabrielle Civil; text in collage from Flash of the Spirit-Robert Farris Thompson; tarot cards from the Slow Holler deck; quotation by Bernice Johnson Reagon encountered at the North Star Church of the Arts in Durham, North Carolina on a pandemic birthday trip in October 2020.