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Hands to Hold is centered around 2 durational performances devised by Emilio Rojas. For a 6.5-hour performance, the artist drank a 1.5 gallons of sap from a 250 year old sugar maple in the Hudson Valley. This action took place in the ancestral homelands of the Munsee and Muhheaconneok people where Rojas resides. 1.5 gallons is the amount of blood flowing through our bodies at all times. This durational performance embodies a transfusion of fluids, the blood of the tree, into the artist’s bloodstream. In the second performance, Rojas created casts of his hands, made soap molds, and performed the ritual of ablution for 8 hours.
In this collaboration between Rojas and poet Pamela Sneed, the artists recognize the labor of artists and black and brown people during this past year of pandemic. It is an attempt to send a blessing to all those hands that by holding on, have held us through. Hands to Hold is a journey of gratitude and acknowledgement, a litany to the pandemics (AIDS and Covid-19) and the waves of mourning around us. It is an attempt to memorialize the intersections of our relationships to this land and the systems of oppression that we’ve inherited.
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