Now & Then: LINE UP! . . . GLOVES OFF!

London-based dancer/choreographer Zinzi Minott

London-based dancer/choreographer Zinzi Minott

So this weekend I attended Line Up! an evening of kick-ass international performance, sound, and video art. My peeps brought groundbreaking black art right on down to my SE Portland neighborhood. Thanks lovelies! What'd I catch? 

London-based dancer/choreographer Zinzi Minott was in town and brought me to my feet with a performance of urgency that left British police tape pouring from her body and slithering from the stage. Sharita Towne came through with the debut of video piece that left us all sitting in awe and contemplation of the raw psycho-sexual race fetish that we'd just experienced. The evening opened with a deep throated, experimental sound piece by Amenta Abioto and closed with Dead Thoroughbred--sidony o'neal & keyon gaskin--a peri-conceptual, dis-experimental, a-nihilist, post-ratchet, deceptive non-band band.

After the show I was chatting and shit-shooting with the other assorted artists and spectators as one does and who do I come across? Portland's own sharpshooting photo and video artist Sika Stanton that's who! And she brought gifts including these images from last year's GLOVES OFF: on Black contemporary/experimental/abstract arts and audiences, September 12, 2015.  Conceived by Portland artists Sharita Towne and keyon gaskin, in collaboration with BCC: BrownHall (Black Creative Collective), GLOVES OFF took the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)'s world renown TBA Festival on a black led, black centered conversation on Black contemporary, experimental, and abstract arts and audiences.

Who we were? Sampada Aranke (San Francisco), Samiya Bashir (Portland), keyon gaskin (Portland), Jibade-Khalil Huffman (Los Angeles), Eileen Isagon-Skyers (Portland), and sidony o’neal (Portland).

What did we do? Well, we set the room a'spin and it's too bad if you missed it. But you can take a peek at what Sika captured and imagine. No no no no... imagine harder:

Penz (it's pronounced pants) -- An Art Year (2008)

Okayfine. I'll toss you a li'l archival bone.

Let's go back to Austin, Texas, 2008: The Art Year, shared with Wura Natasha Ogunji (the Materialist), Senalka McDonald, and Ana Maurine Lara (the Conceptualist), and Samiya Bashir (the Linguist), with regular guest, Kiyana Horton. For a solid year, four black women in Texas committed themselves to art every day--amongst themselves are around the world. Penz even got the academic treatment through a detailed examination in "Architectures of Freedom: Literary Collaboration in Contemporary American Poetry,” by Shelagh Patterson, Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, Montclair State University.

:: The Pënz Calendar ::

What happens when you make time expand? Or lead it to take the shape of your dreams? What if you've committed your days to the moon?

Introducing the Art Year.

  • 1 Art Day is composed of 4 Lunar Days = Morning, Noon, Twilight, Night
  • 1 Art Month is a total 7 Art Days, which is 28 Lunar Days
  • 1 Art Year is made up of 13 Art Months, which is 366 Lunar Days

There are no Weeks.

You follow?

So what was this Pënz anyway?

"August 15, 2008 at 11:02am

So it's "Night" and I'm thinking about Pënz (it's pronounced pants). I was asked last night by an amazingly gifted artist about it and wanted to sculpt a response -- especially to folks who see the posts here and elsewhere and wonder: Just what is this Pënz (it's pronounced pants) anyway?"

I wrote out a pretty clear explanation at the beginning which can be found here:

The short version? It was a commitment to art every day through a year-long, online group art project. There were four of us (2 writers, 2 visual artists) who posted every day, and created a calendar:

The calendar was based on The Art Day (4 solar days broken up into Morning, Noon, Twilight, and Night). I'm Night (natch). :)

We were also given super-heroine personas which we must carry through our lives/art this year.

This early post gives the impetus that launched us to build this project -- a gift:

Pënz (it's pronounced pants) was global. Tiles were distributed and received from five continents--Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and of course all over the U.S. There were guest posts from around the country and internationally :

It was easy to particpate -- either find a tile "in the wild" or send Pënz (it's pronounced pants) an email and you'd have received one or many tiles in the mail directly. All you had to do was vow to create something (anything) with the tile, take a picture of it, and send it in for the blog. Then you'd be a Guest Pënzer!

It was a wild project and a long year, but also a life saver and an amazing focus for the year and in connection with this diverse group of us (all four of us are black, queer women. But we are also each very different: different ages, hailing from different places, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. --  a cool mix).

You can check out this quick post upon the completion of Month 1.

I was constantly grateful every day for Pënz (it's pronounced pants) -- for my sistren who are doing the project with me -- which has spawned at least 4 other year-long art/blog projects from California to London (that we know of!). I'm also grateful to all of the Pënz-wearers out there who followed the site every day.

Eight years later Pënz (it's pronounced pants) still gets visitors every day with over 30,000 hits to date.

That's the sum-up. Thanks, awesome artist, for asking!

Art Every Day @!

- Samiya (a/k/a "Night", a/k/a "The Linguist")