credit: The Future is A Constant Wake by Ariel René Jackson, Michael J. Love
Working across sculpture, video, and performance, Ariel René Jackson (b. 1991 Monroe, Louisiana) explores land as a site of negotiation, bearing vestiges of slavery and colonialism as well as offering the potential for recovery, restoration, and growth. The Future Is A Constant Wake (2019) centers soil as tools to access knowledge from the past in preparation for the future. The opening line speculates on all that could be borne from sustained engagement with the important work of ancestors. Developed in collaboration with choreographer Michael J. Love, the video proposes a somatic way of forging connection with the past through touch and movement. Through this process, Jackson argues that "palimpsests of previous systems will be a guide to seeing ourselves released" and move us to "futures that our bodies will inhabit, again." Jackson reminds us that the English word remember contains the word member, shorthand for a person, animal, plant, or limb that is a part of a complex structure. Etymologically, the Latin roots of remember and member reinscribe a mind-body divide–remember is derived from memor, meaning to be mindful, while member comes from membrum, or body part–a distinction that Jackson makes a powerful case for reworking. Only then, she argues, can the material legacies of the past be fully reckoned with bringing us to a "point past pain and just upon bliss."
Sara O'Keefe, Curator on Screen Series: Ariel René Jackson a New Museum platform for the presentation of new works by emerging contemporary artists