Headlands Center for the Arts

Margaret Kemp

california | performance/dance
Artist in Residence Program 2017

Artist Statement

I am driven to decode the conditions (ie., systems of engineering), that masquerade as law, that masquerade as fable, that masquerade as yours and mine, masquerade as sacred and secular, masquerade as I and we. In studio, my humble, mutable, mediums are flesh, breath, trees, rocks, half-remembered lyrics, overheard conversations, wrongly remembered dances, left overs, hand-me-downs, dreams, trash, and time. Mine is a cross-disciplinary, process-oriented playing, that takes on the form that fits: painting, performance, dance, music, weaving, film, and new media. I acknowledge that this “work” cannot be done alone and am a frequent collaborator. So far, I liked working with the custodians and the dirt the best! These collaborators, who dance in the break while articulating spoken and alluded languages, engaged me in a slippery making. They left a mark and laid down a challenge, that is personal and political, revelatory, healing, and purposeful. I am inspired to do the same.

While at Headlands

I have a dis-easy relationship with the outdoors, the wilderness. While at Headlands I will grapple with this dis-ease. Seeking a healing, perhaps. I will research the landscape, to un-root the rickety relationships, the slippery systems, the tension that pits the out of doors against the inside this self. I will search the overgrown, waterlogged and cobwebbed places, to pick apart the systems, gathering the sounds, silences, objects, and shadows that are there.

My findings will be enfolded through embodied research. The practice is emotionally and physically challenging, a dialogue of taking the outside of doors inside the flesh. I hope to find the easy space in place, a resting—that is both the tree and me. Public engagement will be an opportunity to huddle together inside, or smash against a window of perpetual outside—that ongoing frisson which can only be experienced inside a Blackwoman’s body.

Selected Video

Space Flight Plastic (in process), 2016.


Negotiating Ground (in process), 2015.


The Cleaning Agent.

Selected Works

Personal Website

http://www.mlkemp.space