This is not a performance
The performance piece This is not a performance is an exploration of the exhaustion and exploitation of black bodies in America's capitalist society. Through a combination of spoken word, movement, and multimedia elements, the performance challenges the audience to confront the ways in which the color of one's skin can create a glass ceiling that is nearly impossible to break through.
The piece specifically examines the experience of black bodies in the world of sports, where athletes are often expected to perform at the highest levels while facing intense scrutiny and pressure. The performers also delve into America's ugly history of using black bodies for medical experimentation, often without their knowledge or consent. This legacy of exploitation has led to devastating health outcomes for black communities, as diseases like syphilis were intentionally spread through black populations in the name of scientific research.
Throughout the performance, the performers embody the exhaustion and frustration that comes with constantly pushing against the limitations imposed by systemic racism. Their movements are precise and deliberate, conveying a sense of both resilience and weariness. The multimedia elements, including projections of historical photographs and video footage, add another layer of emotional impact to the piece.
Ultimately, This is not a performance is a comment on the ways in which black bodies are continually subjected to exploitation and oppression in America's capitalist society. By bringing these issues to the forefront and demanding that they be reckoned with, the performance challenges the audience to consider their own role in perpetuating these systems of oppression and to work towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.
Brian Ellison is a Houston-based conceptual artist with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Houston. Grounded in the belief that art is a universal language and a catalyst for healing, he delves into cultural misconceptions such as one-dimensional expressions and emotional inaccessibility. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, including performance art, Ellison captures the intricate facets of the everyday Black experience. Themes of his work span the impact of gentrification on legacy communities, the physical and emotional toll on Black bodies, the lesser-known tales of Black love and solidarity, and the resilient spirit of Black men and women.
Further amplifying his commitment to societal well-being, Ellison is the founder of The Black Man Project, a nonprofit centered on establishing healing spaces for black boys and men. With every creation, he seeks to reshape the modern art landscape, aspiring for his art to be a reflective force that instigates pivotal societal conversations. Ellison's dedication is underscored by an unwavering commitment to social accountability and community involvement.