On August 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm, the National Park Service put forth a call to individuals, churches, organizations, etc. to ring bells for four minutes, representing 400 years since the first enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort in 1619. To symbolize the 400th year, I sewed 400 bronze vintage bells onto a black top. My collaborator, Billy Mark, was draped with an opaque golden fabric. Billy entered first, slowly making his way to the stage and then kneeling on a sand-covered golden fabric laid on the stage. I entered a few seconds after, the sounds of bells increasing slightly with every step. I stood a few feet away from Billy. He could not see me, he could only be guided by his own intuition and response to my sounds. Billy had a bell in his hand (which the audience could not see at first). He moved this bell in small, fast, jerk-like movements which could only be seen in the movement of the fabric he was draped in. Behind us was a projection of a video I made of sunlit waters (I was baptized in this river in 2016).
As I turned my body and faced the projection, I saw my silhouette. It was as if I was swimming in the water. I am inspired by this vision because it reminds me of the thousands of enslaved Africans lost in the oceans of the world. The bells got louder the more I moved, with a climax of frenzied dancing causing bells to fall off of my body, symbolically, like the lives lost during the middle passage.