Charlotte Brathwaite

Artist in Residence, 2020

A portrait of a person outside with foliage.

Artist Statement

My works have been said to defy genre. I have presented—nationally and internationally—classical texts, multimedia works, site-specific and dance performances, operas, concerts, installations, and film. My work creates sacred spaces where spiritual, visual, and oral storytelling come alive. My work aims to build an immersive experience for audience and performer alike, offering new perspectives on both form and content. With projects ranging in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future, I aspire to illuminate issues of race, gender, power, and the complexities of the human condition, highlighting unheard, unseen, and overlooked stories. Always considering the current moment we’re living in, the works deal with the realities and the dreams of the marginalized, using elements from history, as well as science fiction, fantasy, a synthesis of high to low technology, and magical realism to engage with diasporic identity through modes of agency rather than oppression.

While at Headlands

Using interdisciplinary approaches to create new poetic and political experiences, I am in continual search for new methods of expressing the feelings and impulses I have dreamt of. After many years, I am returning to myself (my past) as a source for creative material for Forgotten Paradise: Grazettes Sun, a film and performance installation. It is an artistic manifestation of my belief that when the ancestors speak you must listen.

I will use my time at Headlands to work more in depth on this project, digging deeper into texts related to the transatlantic slave trade and West African myth, and using the space, access to nature, and quiet to connect to the spirits of my ancestors and to write. I want to unpack the work, and examine wider rituals of worship and how spirituality can support cultural values and survival. I want to have time to imagine the piece fully and plan, so that I have my thoughts and feelings on paper when I reconnect with my collaborators.

Selected Works

Only When It’s Dark Enough Can You See The Stars
Short film, 9 minutes. 2017.
This work was created in collaboration with visual artist Abigail DeVille and premiered as part of her installation “Empire State Works in Progress” at The Whitney Museum of American Art.

No More Water/The Fire Next Time: The Gospel According to James Baldwin
Live performance with music. 2018.
Staged at the Park Avenue Armory.

The Invisible Project as part of Empire State Works in Progress
Mixed media sculptures, live performance, film, music. 2017.
Staged at the Whitney Museum of Art.