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Slave Rebellion Reenactment – November 8-9 2019

On November 8-9, 2019, hundreds of re-enactors will retrace the path of the largest rebellion of enslaved people in United States history, embodying a story of resistance, freedom and revolutionary action.

— Read on www.slave-revolt.com/

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 7, 2019

Large-Scale Performance to Reenact Biggest Rebellion of Enslaved People in U.S. History 

Visionary Artist Dread Scott Leads Hundreds of Reenactors Participating In 2-Day, 26-Mile Performance in Louisiana’s River Parishes, Reviving a Story of Resistance, Freedom and Revolutionary Action

NEW ORLEANS — On Friday and Saturday November 8th-9th in Louisiana, American artist Dread Scott will examine a significant milestone in our nation’s past with his latest collaborative project, Slave Rebellion Reenactment (SRR), which will reimagine the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the history of the United States. This project, a collaboration with New Orleans-based arts organization Antenna, is the result of a six-year artistic effort involving historians, artists and community members. 

Through this work, Scott, alongside community reenactors, will explore the complex history of enslaved people’s fight for freedom in the U.S. and beyond. The performance seeks to recover and reclaim the narrative of the German Coast Uprising of 1811, first penned by pro-slavery politicians to suppress similar rebellions, through the lens of resistance and emancipation. 

This is an art performance about freedom, resistance, and hope. Enslaved people, despite their horrendous circumstances, embraced this radical vision and heroic pursuit for a future not only where they could be free from bondage, but end the institution of slavery altogether,” said Scott. “In addition to our country grappling with the long-reaching, present-day effects of slavery and oppression, it is important to acknowledge the power that resides in reimagining your own destiny. We can learn a great deal from the many stories of that era.”

Slave Rebellion Reenactment will be a large-scale, community-engaged live art performance and film production. Set along the River Parishes in Louisiana, the 26-mile roving performance will travel over two days from St. John the Baptist Parish to St. Charles Parish, LA, retracing the route of the historic 1811 uprising, and concluding with a public celebration in New Orleans’ Congo Square inside Louis Armstrong Park. 

This project marks the first time in history that the rebellion has been reenacted at this scope and scale, and it will make for an impressive sight — hundreds of Black reenactors, many on horses, dressed in period clothing, flags flying, singing in Creole and English to African drumming. The work of art is meant to inform, engage and invite reflection on how the past informs the present.

The artwork is being produced in partnership with the New Orleans arts organization Antenna, which has been integral to the development of the project and is led by Bob Snead.

“Antenna is proud of the role we have played in presenting this incredibly ambitious project,” Snead said. “Slave Rebellion Reenactment is a defining moment for both our organization and art history. Having so many local community partner organizations and participating residents, this monumental work will no doubt set a new bar for community-engaged art practices.”

Slave Rebellion Reenactment has received support from VIA Art Fund, Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, Surdna Foundation, MAP Fund, A Blade of Grass, amongst many other supporters including over 500 individual donors. It will be captured on film by acclaimed filmmaker and director John Akomfrah with Smoking Dogs Films, who will produce a multi-screen art film weaving together documentation of the walk. 

To find out more information about SRR, visit: https://www.slave-revolt.com/. Credentialed members of the media who would like to observe the performance on the ground in Louisiana should RSVP at srrmedia@fenton.com.  

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About Antenna

Antenna is a New Orleans-based organization committed to being a vital participant in the life of the city through the creation and support of artist- and writer-driven programs. In its role as an engine for cultural production and a resource for creative practitioners, Antenna incites and supports creative endeavors with transformative approaches to effecting environmental, racial, and social justice. The organization is the principal presenting organization of Slave Rebellion Reenactment. Learn more at www.antenna.works

About Dread Scott

Dread Scott is an American artist who describes his work as “revolutionary art to propel history forward.” His work is exhibited across the U.S. and internationally. In 1989, his art became the center of national controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag, while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then, his work has been included in exhibitions at New York’s MoMA PS1, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Gallery MOMO in Cape Town, South Africa, and performance work has been presented at BAM in Brooklyn and on the streets of Harlem, New York. Scott currently serves on the board of the New York Foundation for the Arts and is an Academician in the National Academy of Design. Visit Dread Scott online at https://www.dreadscott.net/.

About John Akomfrah 

Renowned Ghanaian-British artist, filmmaker, and writer John Akomfrah will collaborate with Dread Scott on Slave Rebellion Reenactment, creating the film documentation of the performance. Akomfrah’s moving image work has contributed seminal perspectives on the Black diaspora, both in the UK and around the world. Akomfrah’s work gained awareness in the early 1980s as part of Black Audio Film Collective, a group of several artists founded in 1982. The collective produced a number of experimental films, combining archival and found footage, interviews and in depth depictions of contemporary England. Akomfrah and Black Audio’s works were remarkable for their poignant political inquiries and collage-like approach. They allowed for narratives of lack British history and culture to become accessible by producing documentaries made for British Television. Throughout the 1990s, Akomfrah explored international diasporic stories from across the Americas, Caribbean and Asia and focused on the legacy of global colonialism. Akomfrah’s work now takes many forms in multichannel video work and large-scale installations.

The Day of the Slave Rebellion Reenactment

A two-day, 26-mile-long historic journey wrapped up right here in New Orleans.

Hundreds of people gathered together to retrace the largest slave rebellion in American history, the 1811 German Coast Uprising.

The rebellion began on the night of Jan. 8, 1811, when Charles Deslondes, a slave overseer who was born in Haiti and brought to Louisiana by his French owners, led about two dozen slaves out of their small cabins on the Andry plantation.

The reenactment started Friday in the river parishes and ended at Congo Square. Participants wore period costumes and held machetes as they chanted and marched through several parishes. The performance artwork was conceived by Dread Scott, an artist who often tackles racial oppression and injustice. 

The reenactment also remembered the names of the enslaved rebel leaders who took part in the uprising.

“On to New Orleans!” they chanted, thrusting their weapons high.

“Freedom or death!”

A group stages a reenactment Saturday tracing the route of an 1811 slave rebellion in Louisiana. (Marianna Massey / Getty Images)
The reenactment spotlights the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history, an event that is largely overlooked.(Marianna Massey / Getty Images )
Period rifles and other artifacts were used in the reenactment.(Marianna Massey / Getty Images)

One of the participants in the reenactment, which was directed by New York performance artist Dread Scott and filmed for a documentary.(Marianna Massey / Getty Images)
The reenactment covered a 20-mile route. (Marianna Massey / Getty Images)
Historians disagree about the details of the 1811 slave rebellion that was reenacted. (Marianna Massey / Getty Images

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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