Curatorial Analysis: Spoken Word Performance through the lens of Narratology, Narrative-making and Auto-ethnography
Performance Art , Auto-Ethnography , Spoken Word
As a major project, this work studies the spoken word genre as a response to, and interpretation of, oppression and examine my own spoken word performance through the lens of narratology, narrative-making and auto-ethnography. This project is composed of two parts: a full-length spoken word performance and a curatorial analysis of this performance. While attempting to re-enact the trauma of oppression, this performance dually recognizes the impossibility within the task. Maurice Blanchot writes in The Writing of the Disaster, “The disaster, unexperienced. It is what escapes the very possibility of experience- it is the limit of writing. This must be repeated: the disaster de- scribes.” This project aims to perform the places of de-scription. In poems detailing experiences of trauma, racism, misogyny, and relationships, this spoken word performance will offer an account of the subject for whom the act of narration is subversive. In this, the performance is self-aware and self-reflective; it communicates experiences for which the language to describe such experiences is either unavailable or nonexistent. The continuous theme of ‘home’ is maintained throughout the performance- how its absence marks the absence of the oppressed subject, how its absence implies the absence of language for the subject, and how spoken word can begin the outlining of a narrative, a foundation, for the subject. My accompanying curatorial paper will examine similar themes. As spoken word is an art form deeply linked to activism, my paper will begin with an analysis of how this art has taken place, what its role has been in community development, and how it continues to function as a teaching tool. My paper argues that spoken word is instrumental in tying learning to voice; by offering young people a medium that both gives them a forum to voice the issues directly impacting their lives, while giving them a means of developing skills in language, presentation and communicating ideas effectively, spoken word acts as a unique and important teaching tool.