The Lives that Should Have Been: A Performance of Persistence, Survival and Life Beyond
Keywords: artivism, performance-as-activism, #SayHerName, feminist performance, documentary performance
“The artivist (artist + activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary. The artivist merges commitment to freedom and justice with the pen, the lens, the brush, the voice, the body, and the imagination.”
It's Bigger Than Hip Hop, M. K. Asante
In 1996, legal scholar and civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw co-founded the African American Policy Forum (also known as AAPF), leading to the expansion of discourse surrounding critical race theory, intersectional feminism, voting and gender-based violence. In 2014, AAPF launched the #SayHerName campaign to bring awareness to the stories of Black women and girls who have been killed by police violence. Since its founding, the AAPF has tracked and catalogued 197 cases involving Black women and girls, who have died at the hands of racist police interactions. The AAPF reported that the homicide rate “among Black girls and women ages 10-24 was higher than for any other group of females.”
In 2019, the African American Policy Forum, in collaboration with the Hammer Museum created and performed Say Her Name: The Lives That Should Have Been - a work of documentary theatre constructed from interviews between AAPF and the mothers of Black women and girls murdered by police. On the creation of this performance, collaborators Crenshaw, Sharpe-Levine and Asim write that The Lives That Should Have Been: “bears the imprint of asymptotic recovery, a process of real-life data collection necessary to attempt spanning the chasm between the reality of Black women’s experiences… The Lives That Should Have Been is an intersectional counter-history written to pave largely untrodden narrative terrain.”
For FOOT 2023, I have proposed an asynchronous screening of The Lives That Should Have Been, followed by an asynchronous audio exploration (otherwise understood as a podcast episode or soundscape), that incorporates discussions at the intersection of gender based violence, data collection and artivism. Please be advised the following video and audio exploration involves subject matter relating to police violence, physical and emotional trauma, homicide and racism.
#SayHerName: The Lives that Should Have Been