TETHER AND SHED
WHITNEY V. HUNTER
“tether and shed” explores art and politics metonymically through the singular action of spinning around my neck, 101 times, two Master Lock® locks tethered to a 10 inch chain. 101 is a mystical number representing the many and more in West African-based faith practices. Here it relates to those past, present, and future black lives lost. Further, it responds to the accumulated number of gun shots and cries of those African American males lost in the recent epidemic of unjust force. The dynamism of the action creates a tension between the performer and the viewer while simultaneously confronting the pathologies of incarceration, possession, and value imposed upon black bodies globally.
“tether and shed” combines material elements from five of my past works since 2010 which focused on the issues of police brutality, unwarranted aggression, and systemic racism against black lives. The culminating point of this work is the construction of a memorial site, meant to commemorate those lives lost, through the material presence of 9mm bullets, a 10 inch chain, two Master Lock® locks, chalk, and a white jumpsuit.
I performed the work in three actions: beginning inside the performance space where the audience discovers me standing and holding the chains, then leading the audience outside while shaking the chains in my arms for the swinging and chalk outline actions, and finally back inside for the shedding.