Building A Buffalo
To be mixed. To be female, except… To be a POC except... To be from here but not really, to be a dancer and also other, to be in agreement except not, to be in the light except private, to perform these selves, to make a ritual- and to undo the ritual, to use what is passed down and also create something new, as a collective and separate. To put forward what we don't want others to put forward for us.
This piece is a score including 15 people in dialogue based on a writing workshop and discussion on these topics. In this process, the group met for 2 rehearsals to set a score. This work was performed at BAAD in the Bronx in November 2017, shortly after a herd of buffalo joined the protestors and indigenous communities in Standing Rock, North Dakota in response to a pipeline being placed, destroying the peoples drinking water.
This photo holds the 15 crew members of a writing workshop and dialogue in discourse around being a mixed body, and what that may lend toward the specific somatics of these bodies as performers. The container included topics such as resources, the unfitting into various selves and spaces, and the in-between ness being mixed creates. Text was created, and we photographed one another as a means to reclaim our own images from ways in which press may have categorized us. Some of the text was gently used in the performance, and images consented to and created together for public use.
Standing Rock intervention of buffalo with some of the performers:
In the process of making this work, water protectors and Native Americans attempting to stop a pipeline from being built on their sacred land, got assistance from a large herd of wild buffalo.
Indigenous culture honors American bison (known as Tatanka Oyate, or Buffalo Nation) as a symbol of sacrifice, as the bison give their lives to provide food, shelter, and clothing through the use of their meat and their hides. Native Americans maintain a spiritual tradition with bison, believing that as long as buffalo — a gift from the Great Spirit — roam free and as long as the herds are bountiful, the sovereignty of indigenous people would remain strong. This becomes a close kindred ship with otherness, in the ways we sacrifice often our health and our hides and skins to continue creating the work we believe in, with the bodies we are recovering.
Writing on Building A Buffalo:
What lives between care and cure? What are the membranes where things cross over, where they spread? How do we track the invisible threads, the epidemics of longing/loss, of history waving, weaving itself through skin? Have we forgotten about touch? What if body and language have turned against you? What if it feels like you are out of time?
a constellation of humans
a process essay for building a buffalo directed by devynn emorycompiled from participants’ language & edited by jai arun ravine