Blog: MCA DNA Index

The Artistry of Absence

By Discopoet Khari B.

Featured images

Chicago Dancemakers Forum, SHareOUT! Week 1. Performance view, Joshua L. Ishmon and Production: Colors: Redefining BLACK, MCA Chicago, August 25, 2018. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


This past weekend, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosted the first weekend of SHareOUT!, a new festival of works commissioned by the MCA. One of the 2017 Chicago Dancemaker Forum Lab Artists, choreographer Joshua L. Ishmon, premiered the performance Redefining BLACK, which explores the negative perceptions associated with all things “black,” in part through collaboration with three Chicago poets. For this post, one of the featured poets, Discopoet Khari B., responds to the question of how poetry can work collaboratively with dance and other types of visual performance.

The poems featured in last weekend’s performance of Redefining BLACK are included below: explore the poems for an artistic echo of the first week of SHareOUT!. The festival continues this weekend, Aug 31 and Sep 1, with two premieres by the Jazz Hoofing Quartet, a new band led by tap dancer Jumaane Taylor, and Daniel “BRAVEMONK” Haywood.


Asked how poetry can work collaboratively with dance and visual performance, I think about the discord in division. We, the poets, dancers, visual artists, musicians, sculptors, etc. . . . R simply artists; all beings sharing a similar space N existence and searching for ways to best record, reflect upon, and reinterpret our journeys 4 our fellow beings. This is not 2 down the asker or even the question. We're raised on division. Our work is presenting questions and, when it's really working, answers as well, but ultimately it's different languages seeking 2 express the same things; who WE R on this journey. Poets use words N the absence of dance. Dancers use movement N the absence of words. Musicians use sound N the absence of clay. Yet all our poems R songs. All our songs R dances. All our dances R poems. This is the connection: Same reflection - different expression. Feel your language.

—Discopoet Khari B.


Full Poem Texts

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