2023  JAGUAR MARY X AKA JOCELYN TAYLOR

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Photo by David Jason Williams

My interests, and the directives that have informed my own art practice, involve black feminist discourse, questions of history, reality and truth as they relate to science and the unknown, and the purpose of the soul/spirit in art. I am influenced by afro-futurist tropes and speech act theory. My performance practice has, at its core, a purposeful and at times, fanciful exploration of notions of freedom and liberation strategies for both sentient and non-sentient beings. I acknowledge my teachers in ritual practice: Kali Maie, White Star, Astrea Aurora, Jane Carleton, Vickie Dodd and Malidoma Some.

 

My performances are interactive structures that involve movement, narrative and ritual practices like chanting, repeated gestures and gazing, to create a sensate journey that audience practitioners become a part of and are invested in. As a glossolalia vocalist, I use speaking in tongues in addition to previously written lyrics, as elements in a performance score. I am interested in how the archetypes of shaman, healer, activist, muse and storyteller impact the public realm and how they can be used to heal and guide us in times of trouble. No doubt, we are in troubling times now and I believe that it is my role as an artist to activate and be part of a remembering of the transforming power of communal space. I agree with Nina’s Simone’s dictum that the mission of the artist is to “respond to the times in which I find myself”.

 

Improvisation, in the context of my work, arises from the experience of embodying the effects of the narrative. It’s the “intra-action” that is being born during a performance. It’s a form of attunement; an alchemy between all practitioners present - the artist and the audience members in the space. I explore tyranny as a program that attempts to delimit and homogenize the personality. Getting free may not mean overthrowing or impeaching despots. It may mean investigating the ways that tyranny works on our battered psyches everyday. It may mean determining what our ungovernable selves have in store for us and accepting what they illumine. It may also mean recasting the fear of death and re-imagining the dissolution of self as a kind of revolutionary poetry that has no end or boundary and therefore, no limits. It may mean all or none of these things. My art practice is influenced by my buddhist upbringing. I attribute my ability to “gloss” to the daily practice of reciting words (mantras and vedic sutras) I didn’t understand from a young age.  My work is also impacted by animist Hindu archetypes like Kali and Garuda (Vishnu’s phoenix-like vehicle) that reference the disintegration of the personality in order to untie vampiric tyrannical webs that seep into our consciousness and plant themselves in our minds as truth.