March 17, 2021

Letter from the Editor

VIEWING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • When: Dusk or between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
  • Location: Anywhere it is safe to light a white candle of any size. If possible, find your way to the ocean.
  • Suggested offerings to gather, share, or place at your altar: Salt, dried red rose petals, fresh pine needles, libational offerings (water, rum), a few pieces of hard candy.

Dearest Readers,

I’d like to take a moment to extend an invitation.

I am a performer whose work, prior to the global pandemic, was primarily situated in live concerts and in-person events; the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 has posed serious challenges for artists like me. Amid deep personal and collective unraveling, these very challenges have at times become invitations, allowing me to cultivate creative pathways, to nurture connections and participate in community.

I speak from firsthand experience when I say that 2020 brought an overwhelming onslaught of grief and devastation. I am, like so many others, enduring the compounding weight of unimaginable loss, and the inability to hold space for this loss through rituals of public mourning and communion. I wonder what it might be like to find another way to share in our collective grieving?

This is one such invitation to get a little closer. Move a little deeper. Dissolve the illusion of separation.

As I prepare for the culminating performance to this series, I have felt called to open the process to the public by incorporating my own rendition of a homegoing ceremony. Homegoing services are memorial rituals that originate in African-American Southern tradition. They stem from a legacy of collective survival and remembrance in a world that systematically denied Black people this human right/rite. Inspired by this practice, I aim to make room for public grieving through performance.

One of the more insidious qualities of capitalism is how it works to not only steal lives, but truncate and minimize collective grieving. During this performance, I will recite the names of those whose lives were stolen and cut short by the murderous and negligent machinations of the State. I will also recite the names of loved ones I and my immediate community are yet to fully mourn in our personal lives. This is not an attempt to conflate situations of personal loss with the conditions of perpetual loss brought on by systems of oppression. This is, however, an acknowledgement of where the personal and political intersect, and the ways in which collective grief and personal grief are, ultimately, bound together.

If you have faced barriers to communal mourning, whether in the last year or at any point in time, you are invited to participate in this performance. If your heart aches for the lives lost to state-sanctioned negligence and oppression, I offer this performance as a space for that grief, too. Through the container of this performance, I hope to meet you in the temporal spaces between past and present, present and future, to acknowledge loss and alchemize heartache.

May our grief work on and through us to sharpen our sensitivity to joy and rekindle our commitment to just transitions.

Photo: Director of Photography, Aja Pop.

NEXT STEPS:

  1. Prior to tuning in to the live broadcast on March 19th, watch Prelude (REM Cycle I). Follow the viewing instructions provided… or not.
  2. Allow for the video to activate the etheric energy of your loved one. Treat words of love or wisdom, inside jokes, poems, or memories that arise as evidence of their presence. Take a moment to meditate in their energetic presence.
  3. During the live broadcast, you will be invited to share the names of your loved ones in the chat box. Share their names. Perhaps a few words about how their life has changed yours. Say them aloud. Take space and make space for others. Be witnessed. Reciprocate.

 

INFORMED CONSENT:

You are not required to take me up on this invitation to access or enjoy the performance. If, however, you do choose to participate publicly, please know that your written testimony might be captured in a recording and broadcast through SFMOMA’s YouTube channel as part of this performance. The recording will be available to the public indefinitely.

 

I look forward to sharing space with you soon. Until then —

Sarah Cargill

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