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TBA Series: "An Infected Sunset" with Damian DinéYazhi’ and Holland Andrews

Alexis Chapman

“Water is life” is a sentiment that marks Act III of Damien DinéYazhi’'s long-form poem An Infected Sunset and permeates the entire late night performance that he and Holland Andrews gave at Portland's Time-Based Art Festival this year. From the moment the lights fade to a single spot light on DinéYazhi’ he is surrounded by images of water projected behind him and on either side of the audience. The audience is situated intimately on the concrete floor in front of the stage. DinéYazhi’'s voice echoing through the warehouse is consistent and unwavering, building on itself like waves lapping up on the shore.

An Infected Sunset explores intimate details of DinéYazhi’'s experience as queer and indigenous in colonized America. The connecting thread between these two personal positions seems to be water: water as a resource, as a metaphor and as a life source that in turn has been infected and discounted by the white colonizer. There is a point in the middle of the performance in which he creates a juxtaposition of him reclining on a gay beach called Cock Rock that used to be indigenous land, while grappling with a deep longing to have been standing in solidarity with his clan at Standing Rock. This seems to be some kind of culmination of a complicated relationship with water as a life source, ties to his ancestral past and the same time water, which brought the colonizers to their shores.

This pain is heightened by the presence of Holland Andrews starting in Act III when she takes the stage, kneeling in front of her synthesizer with her clothes creating a pool of fabric around her. Andrew's voice is delicate as it is layered on top of itself like a light shower, which is building toward a storm. The operatic tone in her voice emulates a deeply emotional wail, which reach their peak in raw guttural screams once DinéYazhi’ leaves the stage. The audience is taken on a deeply emotional journey from start to finish, invited to intimately experience the deep dissonance and pain of where the polluted sky meets the infected water and creates a sunset deep and red with the blood of the colonized.

Photo: http://pica.org/event/an-infected-sunset/