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Clyde Johnson

first performed on August 6, 2015
Terrault Contemporary, Baltimore, MD
performed once in 2015


Baltimore, MD


During the Baltimore Uprising, I felt that a safe space had opened up in my city to express exactly how I felt about race and identity in relation to my own experiences, the recent atrocities against black bodies, and the general disrespect for life worldwide.

“Immure,” like much of my work, plays with dual meaning and the nature of opposites. As a genderfluid artist, the idea of a whole, balanced being consisting of both female and male aspects is very important to me, hence my use of triangles and the eye symbol I use which can be shifted to become a womb. The cage I interact with in “Immure” is no exception. In one sense it represents oppression and incarceration; on the other it represents transformation, alluded to by the visual reference to crystals. One observer said it reminded them of Lemurian Quartz. The entering and exiting of the cage is also a reference to life and death, rebirth and enlightenment. The struggle is a direct parallel to the struggle to live in contemporary society.

During “Immure” I sing The Dreamer by Jose James. The lyrics say, “I saw the dreamer raise his hand, in a word full of possibilities…” I go on to sing, “…but those possibilities are not for me.” I sing it almost as if it were a chant, repeating, and playing with volume. I’m born into such a rich society with so many doors to choose from, but all of them are so difficult for me to open even with a key.

The colors of my body make-up are important as well, representing my love of world myths and symbolism. The blue is a direct reference to Hinduism; the idea of all-inclusiveness, and the character of Krishna, often depicted as a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero, and/or the Supreme Being. The gold represents parts of my body that I feel are adorned inappropriately or controlled by the oppressor.

I am intrigued by the idea of a personal mythology that often comes from dreams and the creation of a new global mythology that meets the needs of today. Using ideas from many myths and cultures spread throughout the world is important because I am trying to relay the message that our beliefs are all saying the same messages, calling for all-inclusiveness and a love and respect for all of nature’s creations.