“UN/FREEZE” by Kama La Mackerel, Artist in Residence

Performance 12-2pm
Installation 12-7pm
Wednesday, Nov 23
Main Entrance (McTavish)
Faculty of Education
3700 McTavish
McGill University

UN/FREEZE is a durational interactive performance piece that also functions as an art installation. I explore the embodied and emotional reaction of “freezing” when experiencing a microaggression. Freezing is a very common reaction to microaggressions; one may freeze from the combination of many reasons such as: shock, surprise, feeling disempowered, feeling silenced, as a coping mechanism, and/or because one is in a power dynamic with the person who perpetrates the microaggression and responding would feel too risky.

UN/FREEZE explores the embodied and emotional reaction of freezing. In this 2-hour durational piece, I occupy and move through a space that is also an installation made of cages constructed out of chicken wires. I wear chicken wires around my body to restrict my movement, I move extremely slowly, slowing down time to instill the discomfort of freezing. This durational piece seeks to explore and translate the hardness, pain and discomfort of the marginalized body in spaces that are not safe. As I move slowly through the constraint of the wires, I position my body in postures of discomfort. I mould my body to represent the weight and exhaustion that one needs to carry when their marginalized and already hurting bodies enter elitist spaces rooted in ableist, imperialist, white supremacist, misogynist legacies.

The body-in-installation creates an interaction between the body, the restrictive metal cages of chicken wires and the thick layers that I wear on my body. The thick layers I carry seek to honour ancestral strength and resilience and the contemporary resistance of marginalized people who build thick skins to be able to survive. The performance-in-installation takes place between two sets of doors, in a liminal space, at the cusp of the entrance/exit of the Faculty of Education at McGill University.

THE AUDIENCE IS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE in the performance by writing an anecdote, a story, a testimony of a time when they experienced a microaggression within an institution. They are then invited to roll their testimony, to tie it with a chicken coop wire and to come into the performance space. Once in the performance space, they are invited to think of the narrative that they wrote, to take a deep breath and then breathe out and let go of everything they need to let go of. They then let go of their written testimony by leaving it in the installation. As the performance happens, the installation evolves and grows heavier as each of the participant lets go of their testimonies and feelings.