Links Hall is pleased to announce our second annual Co-MISSION Festival of New Works.
This mini festival takes place annually the first week of June in order to premier new projects developed by our Co-MISSION Resident Artists. This year’s Co-Mission residencies were awarded to AJ McClenon, Courtney Mackedanz, Nora Sharp, and Sojourner Zenobia. The artists have had the support of three months residencies at Links Hall, monthly stipends over the course of their residencies, as well as workshop support and mentorship to aid in the development of their projects.
FESTIVAL LINE UP:
Thur May 31 @ 7pm, A.J. McClenon // Nora Sharp
Fri June 1 @ 7pm , A.J. McClenon // Courtney Mackedanz
Sat June 2 @ 7pm, Nora Sharp // Sojourner Zenobia
Sun June 3 @ 7pm , Courtney Mackedanz // Sojourner Zenobia
**each evening is a double bill featuring two works
A.J. McCLENON | LEAD ZEPPELIN CAN’T STEAL MY DADDY”S BLACK
In progress work by A.J. McClenon
Featuring Jamillah Hinson & Simone Simone
In honor of my father’s passing and to my grandfather and Bill, I’d like to dedicate space for an in-progress work that explores an existence with inherent consequences on family, fatherhood and the power of unconditional love. From the perspective of a daughter, an inner-child and a living BLACK body, I invite you all to witness memory as history and fragile gifts through sound, movement and robust articulations.
AJ was born and raised in “D.C. proper,” where they learned to fish and wander. Raised by southern grandparents, Nelba & Ernest and a D.C. native mom named Patricia Ann, aunts Cassie & Lalu and mom’s boyfriend Bill. Humid summers spent between D.C., Baltimore and New York. A.J’s work sets personal narratives alongside empirical data, leveling the hierarchies of truth. AJ holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland College Park. AJ has also studied at Eugene Lang College. AJ has performed and shown work throughout the US, at locations like Steppenwolf, The Promontory, Woman Made Gallery, Echo Park Film Center, Chicago Filmmakers, Terrain Exhibitions, Gallery 400, Compliance Divisions, Fine Art Complex 1101 and Longwood Arts Center. AJ is currently the co-director of Beauty Breaks, an intergenerational beauty and wellness workshop series for black people along the spectrum of femininity. AJ is also a co-founder of F4F, a domestic venue that cultivates a femme community, centers blackness, and expands upon understandings of what domestic space can be.
COURTNEY MACKEDANZ | AIN’T NO SWALLOW BACK GIRL
Friday and Sunday @ 7pm
AINT NO SWALLOW BACK GIRL is a performative interrogation of the manners in which the physical body is instrumentalized to reinforce and perpetuation structural violence. Through the collision of text and gesture, AINT NO SWALLOW BACK GIRL confronts the aching similarities between the ways in which the body is exploited for its wage labor as well as its sexual use value. With a tender rage and strenuous yielding toward confusion, AINT NO SWALLOW BACK GIRL struggles to negotiate the (im)possibility of bodily autonomy in the wake of infiltration by such systems of oppression.
Courtney Mackedanz is a movement based performance artist living and working in Chicago. Her performances & installations employ tension, slippage, and wobble to insinuate realities which may appear absurd or distant, though are based in actuality. Mackedanz’s choreography rehearses the legibility of meaning contained in physical gesture while her text works against the stability of language—all in an effort to create/occupy space differently. Mackedanz eared a BFA in Performance and Visual Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013, and has since shared her work in Chicago, New York, Montreal, & Shanghai.
NORA SHARP | SMALL BOOBS
Thursday and Saturday @ 7pm
SMALL BOOBS is a solo performance offered out of curiosity around the intertwined follies of gender and relationship.
Nora Sharp grew up in Chicago. Nora makes work that blends dance, sound, comedy, cultural commentary, and personal history, and reflects lived experience as a queer white midwestern millennial. Along with the Co-MISSIONS program, in 2018 Nora has been in residence at VOLTA Performing Arts as well as a participant in LANDING 2.0 with Miguel Gutierrez at Gibney Dance (NYC) and FIELD/WORK at the Chicago Artists Coalition. Recent collaborations include performances with and for Udita Upadhyaya, Dao Nguyen, the Fly Honey Show, M Wu, and Ayako Kato. Nora facilitates spaces for intra- and interpersonal creative exchange, including Research Project, a bimonthly works in progress performance series at OuterSpace Studios, and an anxiety workshop series at VOLTA. Nora\’s work is influenced by the pedagogies of somatics, tutoring, organizing, non-violent communication, individual & group therapy, and other contemporary mental health practices. Nora is also in the early stages of building a community-based working artists’ and performers’ emergency insurance fund.
SOJOURNER ZENOBIA | BLACK PRISM MOON
Saturday and Sunday @ 7pm
Performed by Sojourner Zenobia, Zahra Baker and Aarafa Payne Black Prism Moon is a participatory dreamscape, a tapestry of medicinal embodiments and offerings, unfolding through vocal sounding, movement, text and installation. Here, in the beyond, a Black Prism Moon. A couple of queer Black femme shapeshifters live here. They embody an alternate time and space, where femininity emerges as a variety of inter-dimensional archetypes: The Beyond, Oshun, The Child, The Crone, Earth, Ancestors, The Lotus, Kali, The Serpent. Change, here, is the life force. Behind the Black Prism Moon, Death is an infinite Metamorphosis, liberation is found on whispers from the wind, beauty dances when feelings arise and age is an inevitable awakening. This is their home. It is not for you. But you are invited to listen with, to learn from, to lean into their way of being.
Sojourner Zenobia uses alter building, ritual, vocal soundscaping, movement based storytelling and somatic healing practices as “now portals,” to reach across time and connect with ancestors, listen to the earth and follow the wisdom of the body. Sojourner graduated from Naropa University in 2006 with a BFA in multidisciplinary performance. In 2008 they founded Soul Journey Projects, a multi-disciplinary performance ensemble. Sojourner attended the School at Steppenwolf in 2009, and Pantheater in Paris 2012, where she studied choreographic theater, and Roy Hart experimental vocal technique. Zahra Baker Zahra Glenda Baker is a performing artist recognized for her work as a folk and jazz vocalist, dramatic actor and an engaging storyteller. Her performance history includstorytelling duo “In the Spirit”; jazz vocal improvisations with David Boykin’s Outet; founding member of jazz and storytelling ensemble “Classic Black” ; vocals and percussion for “Shanta Nurullah’s Sitarsys” and bandleader for inspirational vocal ensemble “Freedom Song Leaders “. She has performed at venues such as Constellations, DuSable Museum, The Chicago Humanities Festival, The Old Town School of Folk Music Field, Ravinia Music Festival, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The National Association of Black Storytellers Conference and Festivals in Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans and Minneapolis, Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival, Rhode Island Black Storytelling Festival and countless venues for the past 30 years. She is honored and inspired to explore the concept of “beyond” with Sojourner and the Ancestral Legacy that continues to reveal itself. Aarafa Payne Born and raised on the Westside of Chicago Mother of Three, Grandmother of Three George Westinghouse High School Roosevelt University Member of a Women’s Percussionist Group: Drum Divas Musical Creative tools: Slits drums, Recorders, The heart of my music is conscious participation in the healing of Us.