I started out my grad school journey with the idea of gele boats armed with the tune of Nina Simone's Pirate Jenny running through my head. As I finish up my Fall Semester - and decompress and process over the holidays, I also realize that I've revisited those mediums by stretching, wrapping and redressing those navigational instruments with gele - using chains to suspend my boats, also using video to capture me performing, hanging from them the letters "BLM" - finally, albeit joyfully writing on the wall parts of Kurt Weill's Three Penny Opera Song, brought to light by Lotte Lenya, and made iconic by Nina Simone. Maybe it's the act of writing on an institutional wall - or just the kinetic connection of hand to surface - but it was definitely freeing, symbolic and is another instance of performative work that I'm exploring as I incorporate my studio practice into a social one. As a black queer woman - I have no choice but to connect the two as I live my life. Nina Simone puts it so well when she tells her interviewer that we have an obligation and a duty as artists to do this, to reflect the times.
This semester has taught me not just about Pirate Jenny and how she will move forward for the next year - but about taking the time, seizing the moment - taking time to pause and reflect and using that to inform how I will react. The writing on the wall of this installation literally came after I had to de-install my media - sound and video. That came after getting feedback after my final critique with my program director and two incredible filmakers/conceptual/performance artists. Putting into action feedback after your own reflection is a skill that I'm still learning and moving forward with the new year I hope to see reflected in Pirate Jenny and her choices in travel, instruments and adventures in this increasingly troubled social context.
Happy New Year,
Pirate Jenny aka PJ