Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives - CODAworx

Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives

Submitted by Flux Projects

0

Client: Flux Project

Location: Atlanta, GA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $84,000

Project Team

Lead Artist

Charmaine Minniefield

Video Collage Designer/Artist

Kimberly Binns

Vocalist

Malesha Jessie Taylor

Musician

Salah Ananse

Sound Producer

Santiago Páramo

Architect

Clark Tate & Mathew Weaver

Point Office Architecture & Design

Structural Engineer

Karen Jenkins

SHEAR Structural

Contractor

David Moody

C.D. Moody Construction

Painter

Charlie Schwab

Electrician

Allen Meredith

Photographer

Julie Yarbrough

Julie Yarbrough Photography

Overview

Honoring the over 800 unmarked graves in the African American Burial Grounds of Oakland Cemetery, Remembrance as Resistance featured a replica of a praise house, which were small wooden structures used by enslaved people in the American South as places of worship. The project integrated immersive video projections on its interior accompanied by a powerful original soundtrack, Rite to Freedom, which emanated from the praise house over the burial grounds. A testament to the resilience of a people, Remembrance celebrated the enduring legacy of the ring shout and its influence on contemporary dance, music, and spoken word.

The soundtrack featured traditional song forms found in the Black church blended with African drumming and present-day manifestations of electronic dance music. The interior videos were a collage of moving and still imagery integrating archival photographs, contemporary video footage of the ring shout performed in The Gambia and in the American South, Charmaine Minniefield’s drawings of the performers, and glimpses of vocalist Malesha Jessie Taylor recording Rite to Freedom.

Remembrance opened on Juneteenth 2021 and was on view through July 11.

Goals

Remembrance honored the over 800 graves in the African American Burial Ground, most enslaved people whose bodies were disinterred from their resting spot in the cemetery’s original Slave Square so the plots could be resold to white families as the cemetery expanded following the Civil War. Minniefield sought to pay proper reverence to these ancestors. The project was the only memorial to African American ancestors in a cemetery that still featured multiple monuments to the Confederacy.

Process

Flux Projects commissioned the work, which was hosted by Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery. Lead artist Charmaine Minniefield worked with a talented group of Atlanta artists to realize the project.

Additional Information

The ring shout is an African-American worship and gathering practice with West African roots that predate enslavement. Moving in a circle, participants perform a full-bodied rhythmic movement of stomping and clapping combined with call-and-response singing. In her work, artist Charmaine Minniefield traces the influence of this art form into contemporary African-American music, dance, and spoken word as evidence of the endurance of a people.