Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1984, Florida) is an artist, filmmaker, archivist and community organizer. Her work centres on themes of ritual, visibility and identity mythology, and she is chiefly concerned with ways to dismantle oppressive institutions and the creation of racial equity in art and theatre, particularly for Black People and People of Colour.
Her work manifests through performance, text, dialogue, dance and community building and her three-week IMMA residency project, Witness, will unfold across a number of mediums including a film screening, interview, workshop, and salon at IMMA. Key events open to the public include the screening of Muttererde followed by a talk from Taylor, and a salon in the gallery spaces at IMMA.
Muttererde is a multi-voice video project that calls for femme forms of ancestral history in the face of the often-interrupted knowledge of the African diaspora in Europe and elsewhere. The film asks questions such as; what are rituals, teachings and abilities passed on from our matriarchs? How do these inherited skills serve us or inhibit us today? It will be screened on 14 September and entry is free but booking is required. This event includes a talk from guest contributor Dr Zélie Asava, a classifier at the Irish Film Classification Office, lecturer at UCD and author of Mixed Race Cinemas: Multiracial Dynamics in America and France (Bloomsbury, 2017).
To close the project is a salon entitled Archiving as Resistance / Inherited Identities, which will take place in the gallery spaces at IMMA. This event is modelled after the Black in Berlin monthly salon sessions on race and race relations that Taylor founded in 2012, and will include a contribution from Natasha A. Kelly, who holds a PhD in Communication Studies and Sociology with a research focus on colonialism and feminism. No booking is required, this is a drop-in event.
IMMA has programmed Taylor’s Witness in response to the solo exhibition of Andrea Geyer, When We, which runs until 21 October 2018 in IMMA’s Courtyard Galleries. Taylor’s salon will take place within this exhibition space. Taylor’s work echoes and extends many of the themes within Geyer’s practice including feminist and queer theory, activism, identity politics, deconstructing dominant narratives and re-historicizing where there have been misrepresentations of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and/or culture. Importantly, within this, Taylor’s work centres and affirms a Black feminist perspective and aims to highlight the direct, explicit and intentional violence that processes of colonization impacts.