This text is one of three commissioned works produced in response to PSX: 10 Hours, a durational performance event held at Ugly Duck in London in August 2021.

PSX: 10 Hours was the culmination of PSX: a decade of performance art in the UK, a celebratory programme marking the 10th anniversary of ]performance s p a c e[.


PSX: 10 hours // words of witnessing

by Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson




~ part 1: remembering is a work ~


I’m here
It’s been 204 days since i was at ‘PSX: A Decade of Performance Art in the UK’ - 10 Hours of durational performance at Ugly Duck

I’m here
It’s been 4,891 hours since i watched, since i attended, since i witnessed the unfurling and crossing of realities

I’m here
It’s been 6 months since i first asked myself ‘how do i write this? How can I document a space built to contain the imaginings of others? performances of the present, presence and the unpresented? Was the event a representation of this thing we call ‘performance art’? Was the event a figment of my own imagination? Was i, Lateisha, even there? How do i take in all this s p a c e?’

I am, very much, here right?
You, are, reading this, right?
I must rite what i write, right?
Okay, i call myself in
To remember what i must, what i can, what i feel
I let go of what i choose, what i do not have space for, what 1,000 words can not contain with the care i must centre, behold and write with

See, i was invited
To do more than watch, attend and witness
I was asked, to remember
To bring ritual knowledge to the practice of re-memory
Because i too,
Had to invite
Had to archive
Had to hold on to what can not be lost
Speak into myself
To open
10 hours
Issa long time
To remain steadfast, vigilant
To take note to the changes of air, tone
To free write out of my skin what i want to hold, protect and un-forget
Memory work
Is grief work
When your body has been mis-remembered
Invisibilised
Thrown into water
When your body, is made of flesh, earth and fire, songs and starlight
All Black skin and dream visions
All life and survival
Speak into myself
To remember is not always easy
To remember is not always allowed
To Remember is not always a given in this world

For it has done everything it could possibly do, to tell us, to tell me, to tell you, that the ways of the writer - the soothsayer - the griot - the witch - the grandmother -  the storyteller - the prophet - the holy - the guide - the healer - the masquerader
the spirit workers of enslaved peoples who gathered in shadows to learn the spell of their own name
For they all knew, the cost of the word is a price we still pay
The Written
Said,
“Speak into myself”
So here i am
Here
i am


~ part 2: Some Thoughts That Came To Me On The Day ~


Rubiane Maia // i think we share a knowing. We share cloth and hair texture. Did you know i was a coming? Did you know you were going to be witnessed? You pour water: soft memory + vessel. They point lenses at you, you ignore it. They cross your paths, your space, because it is not yet a complete circle. You do not perform. In performance, you set yourself free. Clay of Earth. All that matter is putty in your hands. You are moulding + shaping a new universe. i see those ghosts eating away at your back. A resurrection? A seance? A burial? No, a cleansing. A clearing.
An invitation

Anne Bean //
She shatters all these acts of intimacy
Reflections
And it hurts
To see her, hear her, feel her
Break
Her portals
Her entry points
Her requests for play
Step 1:
Make eye contact
Step 2:
Mirror her moves
Step 3:
Stay connected
And begin again
All curiosity and a lingering smile
It’s going now
She takes it all away
She is breaking
and we watch,
We do nothing but
Watch



~ part 3: because both of you ~


And you anchored me - both of you
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
All smoke and a clearing
Rubiane Maia
All clay and an undrowning
You kept me close
Kept me safe in the space
Because you knew what needed to be done
We always know, don't we?
In whatever space we find ourselves in
In whatever lifetime
In whatever story
It must be done
The shattering, the breaking, the un-fixing of a time that was never designed with our hands in mind
So we call in our gods, our ancestors, our spines and open-hearts
Call it all in
Call in, the returning of the gaze
And you looked right back
And I saw you
Both of you

Return to the smoke
Return to the clay
And i know,
And i felt,
To hold you
With my two eyes and body leaning against the wall
A heart break underneath my hoodie, my ribcage, my role in the space
I know you went there Rubaine
10 hours of ceremony, funeral rite and knowing
The Other place
Steadfast in ritual
Each foot
The unsevering,
Each foot,
A memory

How could they do that? How could they cut a foot, a hand… for rubber. For cocoa. For cotton. For sugar.
These plants did not ask to grow from our blood
They did not ask for our stolen names
Each foot,
A holding
Each foot,
A ship
Each foot
Took me a step closer to a future
Where our grief
With all its righteousness
All it’s reckoning
Will have a place
To be released

Into the Earth
Matter
Clay
Were you hot in that boiler suit?
Because you brought the fire
To the waters of what is still so hard to say
Tears don’t make sense here
Not in this space
I need to put this somewhere inside of me
Keep it safe
Come back to it later… in 6 months maybe
In 4,891 hours
In 204 days
I can cry now
For there was a vessel etched into your back

And She
She came with Black smoke
Incense
And a clearing
She
Black mother
Creator of this world
Baby suggs knew her name
The Ada knew her name
I,
Knew her name
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha
For she
Came with tools
To clear
To cleanse
To create space
To move energy like the old ways
To burn it to the ground
To move in and out and around
Specific times to come through and from
2pm
She came
5pm
She arrived
8pm
She entered
Covered in Black smoke
And bare feet
And 10 mins at a time
Protection looks like that sometimes
A ‘brief’ appearance
A ‘happening’
A guidance:
Even when they broke the mirrors in your pathway. You rose. No more of your blood will be shed.