Soft is Strong
( to reconcile the sky&ground )
a shadowed fullness
a black grace
( how do you conjure flight? )
a freedom dream
this ballet of enunciation, breakbeat of
meaning, boombap of the tongue
what was static, loosed
become elastic, porous
new cartographies of gaps
out of which
how we spin jewels from terror
how we spinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
threads taken apart to be re-stitched together
what was separate, joined -
to stretch so taut but never break
this bridge called my back
a ladder called me back
time’s weave and weft
footsteps ascending ;
the people could fly
the people do fly
the earth’s heartbeat remixed ;
a conjured song -
- Miatta Kawinzi
Miatta Kawinzi: Soft is Strong
Solo exhibition at CUE Art Foundation, NYC
Curator-Mentor: Ronny Quevedo
8 April - 12 May, 2021
This body of work meditates on the relationships between softness, fragility, strength, and the African diasporic condition of fragmentation as a site of possibility rather than lack. Informed by my hybrid cultural background - born to a Liberian mother and Kenyan father and raised in the US South - motifs of doubling appear throughout and explore cultural, social, and emotional dualities and multiplicities. The work is rooted in an experimentation with language that is in conversation with concrete poetry and the Black feminist literary tradition in exploration of a poetics of liberation. These works both hold space for historical and contemporary loss and probe at the potential for regeneration and renewal. Here I am interested in the reparative potential of softness to hold us through the tumult, over the fissures; scattered seeds a cartography of continuance.
Infinite gratitude to the Creator and the Ancestors always. Immense thanks to my Mama & family, my communities and our necessary way of holding each other up, the entire amazing CUE team, Ronny Quevedo, Adeola Olakiitan, ray ferreira, Erik Patton, Michael Blake, Kiyan Williams, Jamal Jordan, Francheska Alcantara, kara lynch, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Opeyemi Olukemi, POV Spark, Barbara Hammer, Queer|Art, the Bemis Center, Red Bull Arts, Alfred University’s Institute for Electronic Arts, Integrated Digital Media at NYU, NMAAHC, Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, all the dreamers & magicians throughout the Diaspora forging freedom and finding flight: known and unknown, then and now and beyond - & to everyone spending time with this work. I give thanks.
Thanks to CUE Art Foundation for the incredible opportunity.
SHE GATHER ME received support from the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant administered by Queer|Art.
All photographs are by the artist unless otherwise noted.
Catalogue Essay - "To Allow for Tenderness" by Adeola Olakiitan
Exhibition Video Walk-Through
Exhibition Artist & Curator-Mentor Talk with Miatta Kawinzi & Ronny Quevedo