An entire atmospheric shift happens as I walk into the room. Dressed by China Aleisse, the space is doused in flowers and nature, draped fabrics, fairy lights, candles flickering and incense wafting through the air. A swirl of enticing reds, pinks and oranges light the room. I immediately feel comforted – this space feels like a home, a warm place, a heart, a sensual space, somewhere to be open. A Soundscape of meditative music, nature and soul, designed by Crooked Letter, wash over us. On a projector screen words appear, ‘We are on stolen land – Our wealth was built on the destruction of Indigenous culture.’
Kyah Parrott and Charlotte Allingham enter the room and take seats, joining the two sound artists already set up in a corner. Throughout the work, we are graced with an amalgamation of spoken word, music, short film interludes and live illustration. The live art performance, as explained by the artists, ‘harnesses vulnerability to explore sex, cyclical ailments, traumas that push us to the brink, and coping mechanisms we adopt to survive.’
Kyah addresses relationships, abuse, self-harm and addiction without veil, speaking through the lens of her experiences at the intersections of bla(c)kness and wxmanhood . These themes are echoed and enhanced by visuals of hair braiding, an afternoon of high tea and cleansing in the ocean, potent images and tableaus of nurture, healing, Bla(c)k power, strength and regal, ancestral presences. No words are left unsaid – Kyah speaks with vulnerability, sifting through layers of painful, sensual, powerful and enraged expression.
Through all of the wounding that is spoken of, I feel serenity radiate from her – can sense the healing, release and power in the act of controlling and speaking her narrative. In doing so, she allows these wounds to breathe, and to seep. Her rhythms create the heartbeat for us to access these stories through, her wording rich, textured and full. Eyes glowing, voice fluctuating through tones of sensuality, fight, hurt and reflection, she is enticing and embracing of her audience. Sitting before us, Kyah speaks, ‘I deserve to have my hurt heard,’ and I hear the weight these words carry.
Bla(c)k and Indigenous wxmen deserve, are entitled to and are owed the space to express stories, wounds and words; have them received and supported. Not often enough does this happen – and it’s exciting to see a line-up in this year’s Fringe of not only Blak, PoC and Indigenous voices, but also voices that reach across intersections of the femme and queer experiences. Kyah gives her Bla(c)k femme audiences and others who can resonate with her stories, the space to be reflected, spoken to, heard and seen – an urgently needed, essential, powerful gift.
As she speaks, Charlotte Allingham forms another image of the poet, projected onto the wall behind her, capturing such detail and beauty. I admire the colours as they seep across the illustration and am in awe of the transformation that we are witnessing. Casting my mind forward to the shows that follow, I wonder what the piece will look like as time passe ( PASSES?.) I wonder what future audiences will experience of this transformation? This s eems to me like a beautifully apt mirroring of what each of them might experience of Kyah’s own transformation as she draws on sharing her own experiences as means for healing.
The performance ends and the artists leave. We are returned to the present as the projector screen reads, ‘We are still on stolen land,’ – a gesture I greatly appreciate. Seeping is an immersive sensorial experience, which creates an environment where we are most comfortable, willing and safe to absorb and follow the deep current of opening, exposing, healing, nurture and acknowledgement.