“I was pretty terrified to do this performance. But I make it a mantra to do the things that scare the S-H-I-T out of me,” Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle told a crowd on April 27. Minutes before, she'd finished performing amid a room of her drawings at the California African American Museum. One hundred small drawings stood in for 100 missing black women, as did seven larger ones, extending #SayHerName into the realm of space and shape. “[A]n immense dispersion of loss and erasure,” she called the missing women that night, after dancing as she would have if alone in her room to a soundtrack of spoken word, ballads and R&B. She changed costume, rolled on the floor, allowing herself to be sensual, intuitive and vulnerable. The women in her drawings were that way, too: always in motion, lost in the experience of having a body. Giving form to something otherwise absent has been Hinkle's project for the past decade: making visible the overlaps between the culture of the American South and that of Africa, vividly remaking French colonialist postcards of black women to give the women greater agency (and portray colonizers as viruses). The work only becomes more resonant.
The Evanesced Dispersion (detail), 2017; Credit: © Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Jenkins Johnson Gallery