Sound artist Val Jeanty and performance artist Risha Rox—two Caribbean American artists whose work explores the diaspora, death, the ancient past, and an envisioned future—present the world premiere of their Roulette 2019 NYSCA Commissioned piece: Ritual Merging. A potent ritual with the black body as a focal site of breath work, movement, projection, sound, and visuals, Ritual Merging blends Jeanty’s soundscape and projection work with Rox’s live painting of human canvases.
Informed by the legacies of Haitian Voodoo, Jamaican Pukumina, New Orleans funereal processions, Americana, Afro-Caribbean carnival, Black speculative fiction, and the creative energy of Afrofuturism, the intention of this work—which exists in the complex bardo between mortality and immortality/despair and joy/past and future/the literal surface and figurative core—is to inspire reflection, reverence and most of all, action.
Haitian electronic music composer Val Jeanty creates esoteric sounds that tantalize the subconscious while creating a healing/cosmic frequency. By synergistically combining acoustics with electronics and the archaic with postmodern, Jeanty incorporates her African Haitian musical traditions into the present and beyond. Her AfroElectronica installations have been showcased in New York City at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and The Village Vanguard. She is also recognized internationally and has performed at The SaalFelden Musical Festival in Austria, Stanser Musiktage in Switzerland, Jazz à la Villette in France, and the Biennale Di Venezia Museum in Italy.
Risha Rox is an interdisciplinary artist working in installation, sculpture, body art, and storytelling—a practice which she refers to as Corporealism. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003 with a major in African Diaspora Studies, she began to develop her artistic practice in the rich black loam of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY. Rox is also a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College. Seeking to exalt the base, temporal or ordinary and redefine commonly held notions regarding the human body and the Black body in particular, by inserting the largely missing Feminine Gaze, Rox’s practice is autoethnographical in nature—deeply informed by her heritage as both a multigenerational Black Los Angelina and a first generation Jamaican American of East Indian descent. Rox—a professional makeup artist working in film and television—is celebrated for her range from avant-garde looks to basic beauty to light special effects.
This piece was commissioned by Roulette and made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and New Music USA.