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Collective Wakes (and Other Spatial Acts of Resistance)

Drawing upon literary and scholarly works as well as historical and contemporary imagery from public gatherings and advocacy movements, Collective Wakes explores what it means to maintain community over time. The choreography of wakes are both difficult, celebratory and a whispered command. The idea of the wake speaks here to ways of being, remembering, of being and embodiment. It speaks to a cyclical force, an energy that can neither be created nor destroyed. The continuum of belonging; a Shembe church displaced, reconstructs on a mine dump in Johannesburg. An exercise in place-making:

1. Chase former evil dwellers.

2. Remove dirt.

3. Dig a hole, place salt in it.

4. Cover the hole with soil.

5. Draw a circle of hot ashes within the limit of the cleared space.

6. Have three priests gather around it with a bucket of water in the middle.

7. Mix coarse salt in the water.

8. Pray over the water, simultaneously sprinkling it around.

— Sumayya Vally