stages of tectonic blackness
stages of tectonic blackness is a many-staged performance project and video piece conceived by GROUND SERIES member Miles Tokunow with collaborators Nikesha Breeze, Lazarus Nance Letcher and MK; it tarries with the paralleled processes of dehumanization and extraction, emergence and rebellion, as sustained by Black bodies and rock bodies.
In a cultural moment racked with urgency, Stages of Tectonic Blackness invites those engaging in the work to move slowly in order to feel more deeply into this time. As a durational practice of Black queer resistance, this work prioritizes Black experience, Black time, Black bodies and our racialized relationship to the earth.
The first performance of this many staged project premiered as an 8-hour durational performance in September 2020. It was created with/for geologic formations on the Piedra Lisa Trail in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tiwa territory and met the CDC guidelines for COVID-19. The piece could be experienced virtually on Instagram Live, and was documented by Fe Fox.
This project was generously supported by individual donors of our Fall 2020 fundraising campaign. Special thanks to the volunteers of Standing Up for Racial Justice Albuquerque for their support with event safety.
A video of the above performance was presented as part of the exhibition, CHARCOAL: Strokes of Vitality, at the Richard Levy Gallery in fall 2020. The video will also be featured in the A.I.R. Biennial: An Ahistorical Daydream in early 2021.
How can we understand the Anthropocene as a product of racism?
CONCEIVED & PERFORMED by Miles Tokunow, Nikesha Breeze and Lazarus Nance Letcher
MUSIC by Lazarus Nance Letcher
COSTUMES by Nikesha Breeze
CREATED with/for geologic formations of Piedra Lisa Trail, Albuquerque, NM on Tiwa territory (September 2020)
PHOTOS and VIDEO by MK
PRODUCED by Sarah Ashkin and Brittany Delany
“Ethereal, grounding and transcending.”
~ audience member
“Thank you to all who brought this work to life. It was incredible and visceral, despite virtual mediation. Touching, feeling, being with the land, the air, the spirits... resonated and evoked ancestral memories of those I do not know, yet feel akin to.”
~ audience member
stages of tectonic blackness
Miles Tokunow is a new father, a multimedia storyteller, and community organizer and educator; he has been Black homesteading in New Mexico since 2010. He creates experimental performance rituals for healing and justice by layering Butoh dance, improvisational music traditions, academic analysis, social practice, and radical pedagogy. Tending to the intersections of Blackness + land, masculinity + healing, and peace + action, Miles’ work yearns for new meanings by deconstructing the stories that already exist. His performances include a ( ) wake for water, which premiered in December 2019 at The Tannex in Albuquerque and at etiquette in Santa Fe, and Stages of Tectonic Blackness, which premiered in Albuquerque in September 2020. Miles has been a member of GROUND SERIES dance and social justice collective since 2011.
Within an interdisciplinary practice of painting, sculpture, installation, film making, and performance art, NIKESHA BREEZE investigates the interrelationality and resilience of the black and queer body in relationship to power, vulnerability, the sacred, and the ancestral. Her work is deeply ritual and process-based, often employing her entire physical body into the action of her work. Originally from Portland, Oregon Nikesha Breeze lives and works in the high desert of New Mexico, she is an American born African Diaspora descendant of the Mende People of Sierra Leone, and Assyrian American Immigrants from Iran. Nikesha will be mounting a solo show at form + concept, Santa Fe, NM in 2021.
LAZARUS NANCE LETCHER was born and raised in raised in the American Midwest. They currently live on ancestral and unceded Tiwa land, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico. They’ve been performing for over twenty years, and love nothing more than sharing the story of their people over the swell of the viola. They have had the pleasure of touring the country and the world with the St. Olaf Orchestra and with folk band, Eileen & the In-Betweens. Laz is pursuing a PhD in American Studies with a focus on folklore, Black liberation, and queer and trans studies. They teach Introduction to Peace Studies, covering liberation movements and resistance efforts and have written about topics like transgender and Two-Spirit migration, intersectional approaches to addiction and recovery, Black and Indigenous solidarity in liberation movements, and transgender connection/kinship through folklore. Laz is also a sexuality educator, wishing and working for a world where we all get what we desire.
MK (Monica Kennedy) is an artist living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2017, they received a BFA in Photography and Digital Media from the University of Houston and currently attend the University of New Mexico’s MFA program in Photography. Originally from a small rural town, Sulligent, Alabama has become a driving force for the mass majority of MK’s work. Using found items, stories, and the longing to be among family, MK works in a variety of mediums ranging from photography, printmaking and sculpture in order to pursue and question personal upbringing, identity, family, home, and the terms of loss and memory. Their work has been shown at the Blaffer Art Museum, The National Hispanic Cultural Center and SITE Santa Fe, among others. mnkndy.com | @mnkndy
How can we attune to the relation between the halflives of nuclear waste and the afterlives of slavery?
accountability practice + partners
Below are a few organizations whose work we admire and to whom we wish to be accountable. Thank you to the Radiation Monitoring Project for lending the Geiger counter for performance purposes.
The first iteration of Stages of Tectonic Blackness in September 2020 was made with and for the land on which it was performed — Tiwa territory in the Sandia Mountain foothills. The members of GROUND SERIES wish to acknowledge and thank this place as well as its current and historic stewards.
stages of tectonic blackness, 2020
video, 27:30 minutes
CINEMATOGRAPHY by MK
EDITED by MK and Nikesha Breeze
An edited video of the 2020 performance was presented as part of the exhibition CHARCOAL: Strokes of Vitality, curated by Kianah Jay at the Richard Levy Gallery in fall 2020.
A longer version of the video is presented as part of the 14th A.I.R. Biennial: An Ahistorical Daydream, curated by Jasmine Wahi, January 8 - March 14, 2021.
black radical book club
The artistic team of Stages of Tectonic Blackness hosted Black Radical Book Club -- public conversations around a set of texts that informed the making of the September 2020 performance. Participants discussed Scenes of Subjugation by Saidiya Hartman, In the Wake by Christina Sharpe, Demonic Grounds by Katherine McKittrick, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, A Billion Black Anthropocenes Or None by Kathryn Yusoff and more. Check out the recorded conversations as well as the bibliography for additional readings that explore Blackness and geology.