What is your name and where are you from?
A: My name is Alex Farr and I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania
K: My name is Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, and I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii
What is the project that you are working on here at SPACE?
A: Our project is called Holding: A Queer Black Love Story and it’s a series of monologues, currently, that sort of grapple with being present as a queer person of color.
K: As a queer black person, specifically.
A: And sort of how to show up in the world for yourself
K: In a world in which being present-- or your presence-- is a dangerous thing for this world, and the world is a dangerous thing for your presence, how can you find ways to be present? And a big theme of it is tenderness, queer black tenderness, and queer black love, in all its forms. Especially when it comes to finding ways to be tender and loving with oneself. And how that, in and of itself, is an act of resistance that is so needed right now.
Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
K: Kay Hall and Kay Hall garage because it’s warm, and the internet is really good.
A: But I want to be outside as much as possible. It’s really lovely to be in nature.
K: I really like the lake. I like walking through the woods to the lake and just being by the lake. It’s just very peaceful and centering, and I don’t often feel peaceful and centered, especially in the city. So it feels like-- if I could be in this environment all the time, I would make so much art. I just feel really invigorated and creatively inspired. I feel like it kind of takes away everything else and opens you up to be able to just create and focus-- really focus in. And I think, honestly, a lot of it is because you are cared for. Like I’m getting the best rest I’ve gotten, I’m getting the best sleep i’ve gotten in ages, I’m breathing deeply, I’m walking, exercising, not having to worry about where my meals are coming from or what I’m going to cook-- it’s so nice to not spend money. Like that is such a big deal.
A: I mean I think it does exactly what it is named to do. It opens up the spaces within ourselves that have been sort of storing up all of the creativity just from being in the world and then allows it to come out. To flow.
K: And I think also being around older, more experienced artists is good. It’s mad intimidating, but at the same time, just overhearing their conversations and seeing how they do their work and how they have made ways to be artists in the world, and just hearing about the resources they tap into and the communities and spaces they tap into that I don’t really know about (just being fresh out of school). So it’s good to get to see an example of how artists are living and working and doing their thing and making a life and career of it. I do a lot of listening.
What is coming up next for you and your project?
A: Coming up next, we have a performance coming up! It’s good that we have this time to get it together! It’s going to be funded and put up by folks at Yale but also for the community in New Haven.
A: So we are hoping that it can sort of be something that brings the queer community in New Haven together because it’s disjointed. And also fundraise for different artist collectives that are trying to do what we are trying to do. And then we want to get it funded by BLSA which is Black Law Students Association. So that we can make it a fundraiser.
K: And then hopefully after that we have dreams and visions of turning it into a workshop. I went to the Northeastern Queer and Trans People of Color Conference last spring, and I was telling a lot of people about our play, and they were encouraging me to bring it back and do some sort of workshop around it. So we were thinking it would be cool to do the play but also have a sort of a workshop session afterwards that gives people the tools to tell their own stories.
A: So much of our play is about mental health which is something we discovered from just having to revisit it through the months. And so I think it has to do a lot with self care. And I do think art is a tool, making your own art is a tool.
K: We were thinking it would be really cool to partner with QTPOC Mental Health to do some kind of workshop session around that, using the play as an educational tool to have conversations around mental health in the community, and to explore things we’ve been learning about ourselves to the play. I feel like it’s a lot easier to talk about [mental health] when you can talk about it through art, rather than just being like, “Let's talk about our mental health.” Like that’s hard. Sometimes you need a play in the middle to be like, “Oh yeah, that’s what’s going on in my heart.” You don’t see it in yourself until you see it on the page and you see it on the stage. And the great thing about when we performed the play before, it was like pretty much all queer people of color, queer black folks-- and every time afterwards when we do the talkback, people always say, “Oh my gosh, that was me up there. You put words to what I was feeling. I feel seen.” So I think when we put our stories up on stage, it’s also giving other folks...
A: I mean it’s always the hope that if someone has felt this way they can recognize that they are not isolated. Not alone in that.
K: And that it’s not just us-- that it’s a product of white supremacy and racism and homophobia and transphobia. That stuff is so pervasive and can get inside you and will mess you up-- and sometimes you don’t even realize the kind of trauma and pain we are carrying around and the emotional labor we are forced to do on a daily basis. So it’s about acknowledging that and not blaming ourselves for when you just feel tired. This stuff is exhausting. So it’s cathartic to say that, and have the whole audience be like, “YES” Especially now, even more so, because people are even more blatant with how they feel about you these days. I think it’s just a real cathartic experience for both audience and performer. The giving is going in both directions. And that feels so amazing.
A: It’s beautiful, it’s a blessing. And SPACE is supporting that.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal which would you be and why?
A: I was working in the garage yesterday and I could hear the rooster just crowing. And I just like I want that, I want to be a rooster because they just get to crow and announce their existence to the world all the time. I love that freedom.
K: I would want to be a sheep because you get a free haircut all the time. And from people who know how to cut your hair. Because like, people never know how to cut my hair, and you’ve got to find like a black person who knows how to cut it... So I was looking at those sheep, and I was like, “Whoever cuts their hair does a really good job.” And also they are cared for-- the person who takes care of them really takes care of them and loves them. And they have a community, a flock, they are never alone. And they just get to chill. They are not really used for anything-- people just appreciate them for being and existing. And I feel like, so much of the time, under capitalism, we are only appreciated for what we can produce and for our labor-- but they just get to exist, and people just appreciate them for being beautiful and being sheep. I would love that, if the world was like, “You are doing great because you are here-- and the fact that you are out here making art in the midst of this world… You go, sheep!”