Ni’Ja Whitson (LA/NYC) is a Creative Capital and “Bessie” Award-winning nonbinary multidisciplinary artist, word and medicine worker who has been referred to as “majestic” by the New York Times, and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Whitson engages transdisciplinarity through a critical intersection of the sacred and conceptual in Black, Queer, and Trans-embodiedness, architectures, science, and Yorùbá spiritual cosmologies. Whitson has held fellowships and residencies across the United States and artistic genres that includes My Good Judy (New Orleans), Hedgebrook (Seattle), Gibney Dance (New York), Movement Research (New York) and internationally with the Camargo Foundation (France), Bogliasco Study Center (Italy), and as an invited artist of the Tanzkongress Festival (Germany). Recent commissions include Yale University Dance Lab, EMPAC, Danspace Project, featured choreographer of the Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial, BAM Next Wave Art, American Realness Festival. Their work has been supported by Map Fund, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and a 2018-2020 UBW Choreographic Center Fellowship. They are the choreographer of Rhiannon Giddens’ forthcoming opera, Omar, directed by Charlotte Braithwaite, extending a collaborative practice with notables in theatre, dance, visual art, and music. Whitson has an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFAW from Goddard College, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Riverside.
photo © Maggie Shannon
The Unarrival Experiments and Oba Qween Baba King Baba together are a technological and interdisciplinary performance diptych, comprised of two interconnected and individual works that explore “the vaporous body”: an inquiry into Blackness, astral geographies, shapeshifting technologics of space and indigeneity, and futurity. The two works manifest these ideas uniquely, the first: Oba Qween Baba King Baba, looks at non-binarism in sight, body, African spiritualities, and religious sites/architecture, while the second: The Unarrival Experiments excavates the vaporous body as a map and the diptych themes as performative and technological inquiry.