The Journey of the Invader Spirit
This 15-minute video installation, Journey of the Invader Spirit exhibited at the Peale Center, in 2023, weaves an invented creation myth with harsh environmental realities and metaphors for sustainable possibility.
Concept: In the video, a pernicious illegitimate ‘Invader Spirit’ travels the land blithely wreaking havoc on the local population by way of boundless forms of consumer lust, then later, punishing with detritus and waste. Eventually, the Spirit’s malevolence gets challenged a by a team of artful Capoeira (Afro-Brazilian) martial arts practitioners working with the aid of angelic oceanic agents. The video -filmed while an artist-in-residence at the Sacatar Institute in Brazil, was populated with local staff, and residents as participants.
Process: During a Brazil residency, I was attending local environmental clean-ups, meeting and working with residency staff and a local Capoeira group regarding their participation in a video project that could reflect their interests and concerns. We were able to share and discuss ideas about labor, collective creativity, myth-making and the environment.
Exhibit / Video Narrative
The video’s narrative, and exhibit, explores the exploitative nature of colonialism, and accompanying environmental degradations born of consumerism. The ‘Invader Spirit’ character represents the darker aspects of Western colonialism; the harm generated by all manners of pollution and how the pursuit of ‘stuff’ ends up degrading the environment. In the work, the ‘Invader Spirit is challenged by defiant Capoeira martial artists, who want to defeat the darkness brought on by this Invader Spirit.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music and was practiced by enslaved Africans in Brazil at the beginning of the 16th century. It is now a popular globally practiced martial art. Aspects of the colonial histories of (port-cities) Baltimore and Salvador /Itaparica, Brazil, are quite similar in that both were active ports and places of public slave transport and plantation life through into the 19th century.
In this work, the Capoeira are aligned with the microscopic organisms and plant life found in oceans that scientific research is using in its in developing new types of fuel and natural products that can consume all manner of toxic waste from our oceans, rivers and land. The intention is to underscore the havoc generated by polluted waterways and oceans, and equally, how solutions to environmental problems- through science and research- may be found in the very marine life that are found in ocean waters.
The Peale's Community programing provided a Baltimore City audience, with narratives of possibility, with an afternoon workshop taught by Capoeira practioner, Justin West. Additionally there was a talk on soil remediation with Robin Gunkel, PhD on her community project the Rhizae Collective to phytoremediate lead contaminated Johnston Square in Greenmount West. Additionally there was an artist Q+A session with Peale Founding Director, Nancy Proctor.