Asia Stewart

2024 Aim Fellow

Artist Statement

I am interested in facilitating moments of sensation, connection, and communication through the visceral and vicarious elements of performance and their afterlives as photographs, videos, sculptures, and installations: all traces of my physical self. Their materiality and texture encourage the simple act of feeling. My works make the remnants of colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal violence visible and tactile. Believing that the toll of such violence resides down beneath the skin and flesh, I begin the process of developing new works by extracting somatic knowledge and memories from my own body. Familial, community, and national histories and archives also serve as inspirations for my works, which offer audiences specific vignettes of my experiences of moving through this world as a Black queer femme.

My scripted evening-length pieces and durational performances combine movement, sound, and the live fabrication of costumes, sculptures, and structures that are distinctly corporeal. Reflecting my interest in analyzing femininity, the props I use in my performances are ready-made, domestic objects that can be acquired, joined, and disassembled with ease. My body’s (in)ability to accommodate the shape and size of excessive amounts of these objects leaves it exposed and vulnerable to burdensome forces. My repetitive attempts to support these objects mirror the choreography required to negotiate the limitations of the structures that extend from and beyond the home.

Recently, I have become interested in creating performances that can only be experienced by a small, intimate audience. These performances disrupt the typical power structures that separate artists from spectators. Given my belief that art is participatory, I resist traditional notions of theatre-making that place audience members in a passive role in which they can only receive performances or consume works in an extractive way. I want to involve audiences in the performances they witness, so they recognize that they are complicit in the action that takes place. Each time I perform, I offer up my body so that it may be a vessel that reveals the audience’s true nature, intentions, wants, and needs.

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