This performance and panel discussion considered strategies for envisioning new narratives toward healing and justice, and featured artists Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo, and Sable Elyse Smith in conversation with three figures whose work and research that was critical to their project: sci-fi writer and artist Ras Cutlass Mashramani; Bryan Doerries, artistic director of Theater of War; and psychologist Isaiah Pickens. To open the conversation, Leonardo offered a participatory performance exercise informed by the Mirror/Echo/Tilt curriculum and created with collaborators in recent New Museum workshops.
The event also celebrated the release of a book on the project, which complied interviews, workshop curricula, and newly commissioned essays, published by Pacific.
This performance and panel was organized on the occasion of “Mirror/Echo/Tilt,” an exhibition and residency by artists Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo, and Sable Elyse Smith that represented the culmination of a four-year project to counter narratives of criminality through performance and pedagogy. Employing a visual storytelling curriculum, the artists led workshops in which participants translated their experiences with the carceral state into narratives using language and. The process aimed to facilitate participants’ self-understanding as agents of their own stories, so that “the mind and body may think, feel, and move in a way not defined by their previous experiences,” as the artists write in their curriculum gesture.
Reconfiguring classic structures of heroic tales and using techniques such as externalizing language into embodied forms drawn from Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, the project considered how the body processes memories and trauma in order to imagine new possibilities. The artists interviewed scholars and practitioners across many fields—including psychology, visionary fiction, and community-based theater —to develop the project, and this panel continued these interdisciplinary dialogues.