Library of Performing Rights Commission 2018
The first recipient of the Live Art Development Agency’s (LADA) new annual Library of Performing Rights commission was Barby Asante who developed her Declaration of Independence performance project and brought together a number of the women of colour to consider the role of the artist and art making in a climate of heightened racism and violence against black and brown bodies.
The Library of Performing Rights (LPR) was originally created by Lois Weaver and Queen Mary, University of London in collaboration with LADA in 2016 for Performance Studies international (PSi)12: Performing Rights. Since August 2017 the LPR has been reimagined and reactivated, in collaboration with Lois Weaver, the artist and researcher Elena Marchevska and the Study Room In Exile in Liverpool, as a concept or approach to research and practice rather than a distinct collection and is available as a place of action, a place of knowledge exchange, a repository of experience, and a resource and a context that others can use to support and advance their own work both at LADA and elsewhere.
As part of these developments LADA have instigated an annual Library of Performing Rights commission. Through an open call for proposals artists were invited to propose projects that responded to the LPR and involved three core elements – a live performance/presentation, the generation of a new LPR item, and the dispersal of ideas or knowledge.
Declaration of Independence is a development of Barby Asante’s current project As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence. For Ama. For Aba. for Charlotte and Adjoa, which begins with a personal reflection on the idea of Independence and agency for women of colour from the departure point of the independence of Ghana in 1957. The title also draws upon Ama Ata Aidoo’s poem that speaks of the Independence project as a separation not just from a paternalistic colonial ruler, but also as it a break up of a relationship and an independence for Ama. The project reflects on a woman’s place in society, inviting women to share stories in a backdrop of postcolonial/decolonial and migration histories. creating performative moments of collective herstories that intervene in the archive of these histories.
As part of this ongoing project Barby has made a number of Declaration of Independence performances, and for the Library of Performing Rights Commission 2018 she brought together a number of the women she has worked with in these performances in June 2018 to consider the role of the artist and art making in a climate of heightened racism and violence against black and brown bodies. The work also explored how attempts at integration through diversity policies, in particular in the arts fail to respond to the realities that are in communities of colour, through focusing on the highlighting of identity and difference, rather than addressing the histories and social conditions that create the exclusion and inequality. Together they created a new Declaration of Independence that will in turn generate publication that will explore these issues, centring the ideas and experiences of women and non-binary people of colour.
Barby Asante is an artist based in London and Amsterdam. Her work creates situations and spaces for dialogue, collective thinking, ritual and reenactment. Using archival material in the broadest sense, she is interested in breaking down the language of archive, not to insert or present alternatives to dominant narratives but to interrupt, interrogate and explore the effects and possibilities of the unheard and the missing. Over the last 20 years of artistic action she has created projects that have explored, liveness, performativity and sociability, to think about issues of place, identity and belonging, critically reflecting on race and social justice, through institutional interventions, working with young people, thinking about ways to create/ occupy space and articulate perspectives that reflect on the histories and legacies of slavery and colonialism and how these inform the present
The LPR commission is also part of LADA’s Restock Rethink Reflect Four on Live Art and Privilege (2016-18), and is additionally supported by South Bank University and The Study Room In Exile.
ART FORM_ Live Art
CONTEXT_ Restock, Rethink, Reflect Four: on Live Art and Privilege