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Perspective and Inspiration

by Whitney Richardson

I asked Ami a few questions to gain perspective on her performance for Rapid Pulse 2015. Below you will find the poem by Mahmoud Darwish that inspired the title of the performance This Is How the Moon Died.

Whitney: How do you prepare for your performances?

Ami: I have a lengthy research process for all of my performances. I’m really interested in the subtleties of actions and how they may carry through symbolically. I also want to make sure the information behind each performance is thorough.

W: How did you start your work as a performance artist?

A: When I was 18 years old, I saw performance artists at music events in Los Angeles. I connected it with the rituals I saw as a child in Iran.

W: What motivated your current piece?

A: I began making work on people who have been killed by police in 2000. At a very young age, I had a close friend killed by police. As I got older, I knew several other people who were killed by police, so I wanted to do something that was healing for the people affected. When I was invited to do this piece for the Rapid Pulse Performance Festival, I thought it would be great to work with what Chicago has to offer naturally, wind, while poetically allowing the victims to be remembered in flight.

W: Have you had confrontations with police yourself?

A: Yes, and I’ve referenced in some of my work. I can discuss with you in more detail later.

W: What does an ideal police force look like? Do you think it is possible?

A: I’m very interested in the ideas behind restorative justice. Most policing is to protect property for those who own property, ultimately benefiting those with the most property and assets. I believe the first thing needed in our society, in order to have justice and democracy, is to value humanity, and the lives of all, above property.

will be performing: SAT 06 JUNE from 12-1pm in Homan Square
North Lawndale (S Central Park Ave & W Arlington St)
and SUN 07 JUNE 4-5pm offsite TBA location

Victim #48

Translated by: Denys Johnson-Davies

They found in his chest a lamp of roses and a moon
And he thrown dead upon the stones.
In his pocket they found a few piastres,
A box of matches, a travel pass,
And tattoo marks upon his young arm.

His mother missed him,
Mourned him year after year.
Boxthorn sprouted in his eyes
And darkness thickened.

When his brother grew up
And went looking for work in the city’s markets
They put in prison:
He carried no travel pass.
All he carried in the street was a box of garbage
And other boxes.

So, children of my country,
Thus did the moon die.

photo courtesy of the artist
Whitney Richardson is an artist, teacher, activist and writer, based in Chicago. She currently reports for New City: Art. Her work supports civic engagement, poetic living and mutual aid. She directs Whatever Lab (formerly known as the Kite Collective), promoting environmental awareness and engagement through sensory arts programming. She has a BA in International Studies: Human Rights and a certificate in Sustainable Urban Design.
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