This piece is looking at the impact law enforcement declaration has on Black bodies. Performed at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica in the summer of 2018.
“As a Black queer woman living inside a world that is constantly trying to kill me…”
“Respite, Reprieve, and Healing: An Evening of Cleansing” was Patrisse’s 2019 thesis solo show. Elements of performance, live music, sculpture, and improvisation is the artistic foundation of this piece. Patrisse states, “I’m tired, and I’ve been tired for a very long time.”
When thirteen Black performers said yes to being part of her piece, “Hair Wash”, she felt nothing but gratitude. “Black hair is sacred. We don’t let anyone touch our crowns,” says Cullors.
Brianna Mims held the kind of space and gentleness required as the hair washer. Each person was a magic portal into the world of the diaspora. They used honey and coconut milk and salt to set the intention. To hold the container. And the rope. The rope ties their Ori together. One hive mind. Healing together.
RESIST is a 12 part docu-series coproduced by Patrisse and directed by Tani Ikeda, Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, and Nathalie Johns in partnership with digital media company blackpills.
The series follows the grassroots work of Los Angeles organizations fighting the county’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan.
Primarily focusing on the work of Patrisse and other members of JusticeLA including Jayda Rasberry of Dignity and Power Now, Helen Jones of Dignity and Power Now and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Bambi Salcedo of TransLatina Coalition, and Johnathan Perez of Immigrant Youth Coalition, the series is a beautiful and inspiring look into the motivations and daily struggles of movement workers on the ground.
In August 2017, two weeks after the attacks in Charlottesville and on the 226th anniversary of the Haitian revolution, Patrisse performed “Remembering ’92,” a moving tribute not only to lives lost and movements sparked in the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising, but also to revolutionary Black people fighting oppression and building power throughout history.
Taking place at the California African American Museum among their No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992 exhibit and with the musical accompaniment of Kimya Dawson’s “At the Seams”, Patrisse led a solemn funeral procession before using her body and a collection of protest signs to express a series of other events and emotions.
The performance was followed by a Q&A with Patrisse and the exhibit curator Tyree Boyd-Pates.
In October of 2016, Patrisse brought Power…
From the Mouths of the Occupied to Seattle, a city often referred to as “progressive.”
Yirim Seck, Faisal Provincial, KT, Hodan Hassan, Monique Franklin, Akilah Franklin, Jah-Vi’ “SJS” Cotten-Cohia, Luzviminda Uzuri “Lulu” Carpenter, and Marcel Baugh told personal stories highlighting their experiences with local state violence and their resilience as Black people.
The cast performed 3 sold-out shows with rave reviews from the media including The Stranger, The Seattle Times, The South Seattle Emerald, and many others.
Patrisse and FOREMOST curated Malcolm Revisited, a tribute to freedom fighter Malcolm X.
This series of workshops, live performance pieces, and visual exhibits explored the life, legacy, and impact of this iconic historical figure, as well as his influence on the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Featuring powerful retrospectives from Prentis Hemphill, Aaryn Lang, and Brayan Gonzalez, the performance explored Malcolm’s effect on each person individually as well as collectively.
#BlackLivesMatter has pushed the country to have a new conversation about what it means to protect Black lives.
Art allows for conversations to happen across generations, gender, race and ability. This piece served as a contribution to #BlackLivesMatter, Malcolm X, and the past and current freedom fighters in this movement.
“HateisHateisHate” is Patrisse Cullors’ new art piece that expresses the challenges Black people face in a world of white supremacy.
Using 42 pages of hate mail and the FBI’s new Black identity extremism report, Patrisse developed an interactive installation where participants had the opportunity to follow recorded instructions in Patrisse’s voice.
They were asked to cut out words and statements and paste them onto butcher paper.
“Trauma is interesting to me not because of the pain it causes but rather the opportunity that arises from it,” says Cullors.
This piece is about hate and what we get out of it, how it is birthed, where it comes from, the ingredients of hate, why it exists, how it’s fostered, can and how we can transform it. Patrisse is interested in the impact hate has on our body and psyche.
She investigates how racism, homophobia, and transphobia aren’t just disruptive because of the ways they lock us out of structures, but also because they create an “other” and the other becomes dehumanized. Then, the process of dehumanizing allows us to cause violence and harm.
There is also a materiality to hate that interests Patrisse because she continues to witness the underbelly of society. She sees the impact it has on those who receive the vitriol on a daily basis.
She says about the piece, “I’m curious about how its shaping me, if i can beat it back, or is it just about succumbing to the reality? I want to dig into this shit, because maybe it’s the only way I feel like I have agency.”
In July of 2013 Patrisse curated a pop-up piece performed outdoors on a U-Haul truck called “Warriors: Dressed in Queer, Cloaked in Now.”
Six months later at Highways Performance Space that piece had evolved into “An Evening With Warriors: Speaking the Unspoken.”
Often overshadowed by racial trauma and her brother’s jail trauma, Patrisse wanted a venue to express her and others’ queer trauma through a social justice and intersectional lens.
The performance highlights the stories of four queer and trans people of color – stories that are often untold. An “Evening With Warriors” brought family, friends, and strangers together to share in their stories.
Watch the post-performance Q&A below:
In 2012 the ACLU launched a class action lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for abuses in the jail system.
Having read the 86-page report, Patrisse decided to create a performance art piece that highlighted her brother’s story of being brutalized in the county jail while dissolving the disconnect between the conditions inside custody and the community outside.
That piece became “STAINED: An Intimate Portrayal of State Violence,” a powerful and intimate performance where mere caution tape separated the audience and artists. A recording of Patrisse’s voice could be heard reading correspondence between her mother and brother detailing the beatings he was forced to endure.
Meanwhile, several people could be seen within the caution tape boundary displaying various behaviors from push-ups and escape attempts to laughing and crying uncontrollably.
The group would occasionally turn to the monotonous task of wheatpasting the ACLU’s jail abuse lawsuit to the wall. The piece stained the audience profoundly. After leaving the performance, viewers were unable to wash their hands clean of the abuse incarcerated people experience.
“STAINED” toured for a year around Los Angeles County – and ignited a movement. Audiences wanted to do more than watch the piece; they wanted to change the county jail system. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence was born. Watch the performance below:
Kicking Off Opening Night at the Forging Territories Exhibit
Patrisse helped led the procession to the exhibition space on opening night for Forging Territories: Queer Afro & Latinx Contemporary Art, held from June 29, 2019 to November 3, 2019. The exhibit was curated by Ruben Esparza at the San Diego Art Institute. Although Patrisse only performed for one night, her performance set the tone for the entire exhibition which sought to celebrate beauty and life in spite of the hate and trauma experienced due to racial inequality.
For this performance, Patrisse painted her entire body with gold paint and added chakra colors, giving the impression that she was a human statue. She wanted to emphasize that Black people are more than just their trauma. During the procession, she wanted to help viewers think about the borders, journeys, and scars that have been left on Black people and their bodies — but also that there is light and hope.
Patrisse said in an interview with McCall: “I am very interested in the idea that even inside of the pain and inside of the trauma and inside of the government that is intentionally making us feel helpless, there is a place inside all of us where we are still alive.”
In alignment with much of Patrisse’s goals in her art and activism, this piece reflected how she sees beauty and joy amongst the hate, continuing to give her hope in creating change.