Patricia Nguyen will perform at the Eclipsing Festival
Amina Ross, the curator of Links Hall’s new Eclipsing Festival, doesn’t want you to be afraid of the dark. Instead, she and a team of multimedia artists want to shatter socially reinforced associations surrounding light and darkness.
“The connotations around darkness are almost wholly negative,” says Ross. Although the connection between racial injustice and language can seem abstract, she believes that connection is really tangible. “If we’re taught from the most basic ages that to be dark or to be black is bad,” she says, “how can we expand our imagination around people who are called by the same name?”
Ross has been exploring these ideas for years. The Eclipsing Festival shares its name with a 2014 performance piece during which she swung a work light around her body in a darkened room in order to reclaim the shadows as a place of power. Eclipsing Festival artists such as the Los Angeles femme Afro-punk band FUPU (Fuck U Pay Us) are engaging with that theme by finding comfort and power outside of being visible through songs like “Night Queen,” inspired by lead singer Uhuru Moor’s experiences of being harassed during the day.
“I think a lot of conversations around power and what it means to gain power as marginalized people place a lot of emphasis on visibility,” says Ross. “The answer isn’t that the more we see black people the better we’re doing. We have Beyoncés and Oprahs and Obamas, but that sort of visibility has not changed the reality of the everyday black experience. If we think about empowerment beyond visibility, what kind of conversations can arise?”
Eclipsing Festival 1/31-2/4: Wed-Sun 7 PM, Links Hall, 3111 N. Western, 773.281.0824, linkshall.org, $10-$20, $45 festival pass.