Link to view: Af-fixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex, 2015
The title of the work, Affixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex , is derived from the introduction of Essex’s pivotal book Ceremonies called Fixing Ceremonies by Charles Nero. In his introduction for the Cleis re-issue in of Ceremonies in 2001 Dr. Nero writes;
In an insightful reading of Beloved, the black feminist literary critic Barbara Christian praises Morrison for helping us to confront the Middle Passage. Christian asserts that Morrison's Beloved is a "fixing ceremony" whose purpose "is not merely that of remembrance for the sake of remembrance, but remembrance as the only way to begin the process of healing that psychic wound, which continues to have grave effects on the present." Christian identifies Beloved as part of a project of communal healing helping us to make peace with those "Sixty Million and more" so that “Those whose names we can no longer specifically call know that we have not forgotten them, that they are our 'Beloved.” Christian's observations about Morrison's Beloved are relevant to Ceremonies. Much of Ceremonies addresses our queer “beloved" from the life before the AIDS devastation.
With this work, I am affixing this introduction as well as Hemphill’s work by extended it into the online space that Essex refers to in his cyberspace quote. I am also attempting to create a fixing ceremony or ritual presentation of Hemphill’s work that will invoke his spirit within cyberspace. Hemphill’s quote will serve as the foundation or script for this work. I am attempting to answer and explore the questions that Hemphill posed in this quote as it has given me insight into what Hemphill may have been thinking about in regard to how he could see or imagine himself functioning within the internet (cyberspace). Essex Hemphill made this statement and posed these questions at the Black Nations/Queer Nations? conference shortly before his death from complications from HIV/AIDS on November 4, 1995 in Philadelphia, PA. This year marks the 20th anniversary of his transition.
In the creation of Af-fixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex, I wanted to bring him into cyberspace- a space of liminality-for him and his work to exist. The work is broken into four movements or parts as I am trying to align this work with a certain function, wherein the work will exist as a performance that requires all the movements be experienced in succession to experience the larger work. This placed the work in a space of ritual or ceremony on the occasion of 2015's Day With(OUT) Art. The initial audience had to complete the performance of the four movements in succession before given access to the Institute of Contemporary Art's website as it was the first thing the encountered when the visited the site on the day on Dec. 1, 2015 website.
-Tiona Nekkia McClodden, 2015