Art Show at MLK Library to Depict Race, Class Conflicts as Sport
A new art show at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is looking to teach locals about social divides using a competition between runners as a metaphor this weekend.
“RACE: Talc & Ash,” a performance about gentrification, race and class in D.C., is set to occur in the library at 901 G St. NW at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The production, starring Holly Bass and Christopher K. Morgan, will mirror a sporting event, with pre-show tailgating and live commentary.
“Showing two people racing against each other is my way of distilling the conflicted social dynamics caused by gentrification into a very simple, easily digestible image,” Bass said.
The two artists will race each other while standing inside of a bottomless, square wooden frame. Talcum powder will fill one of the frames, while the other one will have ash. The racers must keep the sides of the two frames touching at all times.
As the racers push against each other to win they end up creating a “visual miscegenation” as both the powder and ash paint their bodies, Bass said. The race represents how one person’s progress is directly tied to another individual’s advancement, questioning “who we leave behind when we try to get ahead,” she said.
“I wanted to find a popular ‘common ground’ activity like sports to use as an entry point for two things that people aren’t always so comfortable with: contemporary dance/performance art and race,” Bass said.
Gentrification, an issue Bass said she has witnessed firsthand in D.C., is the driving force behind the performance.
“My philosophy about cities and neighborhoods like D.C., Oakland and Harlem in Manhattan is that these are culturally black spaces, and the culture of these spaces need to be treated as cultural treasures just as we preserve old buildings and monuments,” she said.
Photo courtesy of Pink Line Project