This piece has evolved in iterations, an ongoing inquiry into the question of whether or not a white artist can create art in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, whether that is an acceptable venue for interrogating complicity.
I wrote the first iteration, for flute, piano, and melodica. It was performed by Antoine Beuger and D. Edward Davis in Düsseldorf in 2014. But I got it all wrong: abstract and distanced. I realized I had to focus on George Zimmerman and the ways that my own whiteness enabled his, and that making my own process transparent was as important as the result. Memor 2.26.12 (now for viola and electronics) became a hybrid text, combining notation, research, and reflective practice, a zine for the audience to read during the performance.
Unsilent: Political Poetics
I also realized that it is a piece that should only be performed in venues where it contributes to larger conversations around complicity in systems of white violence and anti-black racism–conversations that do not center white experience. For the premier, I worked with Toussaint St. Negritude, Rajnii Eddins, and other local artists and activists, to produce the event Unsilent: Political Poetics, which consisted of a zine fair, an evening of music, spoken word, and dance, and a roundtable conversation on art and activism with organizers from Justicia Migrante, the VT Racial Justice Coalition, and Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington.
The event was well attended and brought together different groups that are not always in robust dialogue. It taught me to view music as a means of producing shared contemplative space, catalyzing conversation, and engendering a community of accountability. I don’t know what the next iteration of this piece will be–or whether it will have one–but I know that I am still only beginning to understand what it means to grapple with this material.
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood […] for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”– Audre Lorde