SHELTER IN PLACE
Dance Film Artist: Roma Flowers
Dramaturgy: Daniel Banks
Tintype photography: Will Wilson
Music: Najeeb Sabour
Concept, Choreography, and Dance Performance by Adam W. McKinney
SCAB: Honoring the Memory of Mr. Fred Rouse, Arts Journal, Spring 2022, vol. 1
Shelter in Place is an immersive environment created by Adam W. McKinney with dramaturgy and direction by Daniel Banks that deconstructs elements of the holiday of Sukkot to reflect on the anti-Black racial violence, historical trauma, and the possibilities of liberation through art and ritual. The work began with McKinney's learning of the 1921 lynching of Mr. Fred Rouse, whose murder at the hands of a white mob in Fort Worth has largely been forgotten. With few historical archives to draw upon, the artist collaborated with Diné photographer Will Wilson to stage tintypes wherein McKinney dresses as Mr. Rouse in traumatic sites associated with the lynching.
These images become the locus of documenting injustices of the past and the means for initiating transformational civic change. The viewer witnesses McKinney dancing in a film manifesting the sukkah's protection; he circles and spirals as a representation of Shechinah, the Biblical clouds of glory in a video entitled Glorious Clouds, filmed by Roma Flowers. In celebration of Sukkot, the artist inverts the sukkah, bringing the secrecy of historical truths to light; the images, film, text, and dance are on full display. A nod to the latticed roof of the sukkah, Shelter in Place gathers up a visual archive that feels less like finding shelter and more like yearning for it. McKinney's multimedia exploration of the life of Mr. Rouse is a Black Jewish response to history that is re-embodied as a prayer for justice.
Shelter in Place has shown at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (Portland), Bridge Projects (Los Angeles), Project Row Houses (Houston), and Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus (Fort Worth).