Mohau Modisakeng

Performa 17

Co-presented with Times Square Arts. Commissioned by Performa for the Performa 17 Biennial.

Times Square Arts and Performa present Mohau Modisakeng’s Zion, a choreographed street performance of sixteen dancers and four musicians that will take place on the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets on Saturday, November 11th from 4:30pm – 5:30pm. Zion was commissioned by Performa for the Performa 17 Biennial.

In a global climate of extreme poverty, political conflict, violence and human rights abuses, people all across the world are being forced to seek new lives elsewhere. Zion visualizes that universal anxiety, with each of the sixteen male and female performers carrying an array of personal possessions, various pieces of baggage, and furniture via an exodus choreography of walking, running, jumping, falling, leaning, and sitting—enacting the blistered legacy of segregation, violent displacement, colonialism and apartheid coursing through South African history, American history, and contemporary events. The performance acknowledges both the grief and catharsis of a population subject to the machinations of violence, forced migration, and subjugation.

The Times Square route will be the third of three. The first performance will begin on the morning of November 11 at Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem, the first African-American congregation in New York City, and will run along Martin Luther King Boulevard, passing iconic Harlem locations along the way. The second performance will start from the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and journey towards Summit Rock, just north of the former site of Seneca Village, a 19th century community of free African-Americans who were forcibly removed to make way for the development of Central Park.

The Times Square portion will travel along 42nd Street to the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets for a choreographed performance, before exiting along 43rd Street. The combination of the procession and site-specific performance represents a balance between journey and destination, transience and settlement, where Times Square becomes a temporary settlement for a wandering people.

Photographs courtesy of Ian Douglas for Times Square Arts.