The nonprofit Queer|Art has awarded its inaugural Eva Yaa Asantewaa Grant for Queer Women(+) Dance Artists to Jennifer Harge, a Detroit-based educator and movement artist. Harge will receive $10,000 to develop and produce Fly | Drown, a performance installation that will premiere in Detroit in the fall.
Fly | Drown will feature a domestic interior set with, according to a release, “black vernacular ready-made objects, such as a couch with plastic covering, a hot comb, and a small television set atop of a larger, non-working one.” Harge’s performance works “to make quotidian aspects of a black femme embodiment visible, to process where and how black queer women can simply be.” Visitors will also be able to experience the installation when Harge is absent.
In a statement, the artist said, “This project, Fly | Drown, speaks to the trajectory of my work more broadly, and the tools learned from this development period will provide substantial growth towards my work in black dance coalition building in Detroit. In a city undergoing continued gentrification and displacement, this grant affords me the opportunity to think critically about our needs as black dance artists in Detroit and our relationship to black collective care-taking in dance.”
Harge, whose work explores her black and queer identities and the histories therein, was selected from a pool of 87 applicants. She has previously been involved with the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Knight Foundation, the Pulitzer Arts Foundations, the University of Michigan, and other organizations.
Other finalists for the grant were Indira Allegra, Una Osato, Noemí Segarra Ramírez, and Anna Martine Whitehead. The judges were performer Nora Sharp, installation artist Julie Tolentino, and curator Marýa Wethers. The grant, named for curator, critic, and educator Eva Yaa Asantewaa, spotlights the work and legacy of queer women and gender nonconforming dance artists. Yaa Asantewaa currently serves as the senior curatorial director of Gibney, a center for dance and social activism in New York.