Imani M’aat Asks “What Does Unmasking Thyself Mean?” in her Performance Series and Exhibition
Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen Taylor is a healer, visionary, artist, drummer of the African Diaspora, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, photographer, dance educator from Norfolk, VA currently based in Detroit, Michigan. She is a recipient of the 2022 Emerging Artist Fellowship supported by the Knight Foundation. The Emerging Artist Fellowship recognizes ambitious artists who are early in their careers and demonstrate artistic potential through creative risk-taking.
Her upcoming interactive performance and gallery exhibition, An Unmasking of Thyself opening to the public on Friday, July 22nd, will present a series of four one-night events and corresponding exhibition of photographs and alters that uncovers the multiple layers of cultural, emotional, and spiritual forms of masking. The exhibition will be on view through August 12th, and include weekly ticketed performances each Friday evening at PLAYGROUND DETROIT.
“An unmasking to me is healing, freedom, justice personified into action, anti-racism, social justice, magic, and divinity.”
Imani has trained in multiple dance styles including improvisation, experimental, hip-hop, modern, contemporary, and traditional West African dance practices. Her primary focus in dance is West African dance and its various rhythmic patterns and dance traditions. Through these dance practices, she produces many works with the intention of developing safe spaces while unifying the community and helping others develop higher consciousness through the performing and visual arts. Healing, the understanding of vibration through rhythm, social justice, and honoring ancestry is deeply embedded in her framework, curriculum, and community structure. Her goals are to bring forth spiritual healing and to simply encourage others through her work as a versatile creator and dance artist.
Motivated by her travels internationally and throughout the nation Imani has trained and studied with world-renowned dance artist and educators such as Moustapha Bangoura, Colette Eloi, Penny Godboldo, Youssouf Koumbassa, Makeda Kumasi, and Valerie Winborne. Imani is also one of the co-founders of Flip the Switch 529 a grassroots organization that envisions a world where artists, healers, and individuals from all walks of life can nurture connections through cultural exchange and ritual, while raising the collective consciousness of our global community.
“An Unmasking of Thyself” is a collective healing ritual that uncovers the multiple layers of cultural, emotional, and spiritual forms of masking. As we uncover and visit the complex layers of an unmasking, we will be able to understand more about ourselves during this interactive and devotional experience.
Get ready to dance, laugh, cry, and rejoice as we move through and explore a community collaboration full of films, installations, and live performances. Trust us this is something that you surely do not want to miss. Join us, we have space for you.
An Unmasking of Thyself is an interactive performance and installation by Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen, presented in a series of four one-night events and corresponding exhibition of photographs and alters that uncovers the multiple layers of cultural, emotional, and spiritual forms of masking.
As we uncover and visit the multiple layers of an unmasking, we will be able to understand more about ourselves during this interactive and devotional experience. Together we will unmask and engage in a variety of communal rituals.
Imani’s practice includes researching the African Diasporic community of dancers, drummers, and historians in the multicultural city of Detroit through photography, film, music, and dance. She recently returned from a 71-day immersion in Guinea during a time of extreme high social tensions, shifts of political power during the highest peak of a global pandemic, documenting the journey through her multi-disciplinary videography and photography practice.
“Thus far during my journey, I’ve engaged countless unimaginable experiences that have shifted my perspective around the daily social, racial, and political issues presented to us Globally. I see the same correlation between Guinea and Detroit. With all that I’ve encountered abroad and here in Detroit, I will never forget ALL of the deep and meaningful encounters that opened my mind to the possibility of living a peaceful, compassionate, and holistic lifestyle, especially during a time of global chaos and uncertainty. I feel so fortunate that I can mold my lived experience into a heartfelt, artistic expression that invites participants to unmask and make their contributions as we reflect, rediscover, and recreate together. An unmasking to me is healing, freedom, justice personified into action, anti-racism, social justice, magic, and divinity.”
I, Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen Taylor, consider myself an ever-evolving revolutionary and visionary performing artist who knows the vitality, holistic and unifying effects of African Diasporic culture. Collaboration is key to my process and how I manifest my artistic creations. Through research, pedagogy, and traveling, I unite numerous African Diasporic art forms that can be universally inclusive and fundamental to creating more anti-racist environments.
My work embodies my identity and depicts how my ancestry is magical beyond measure. My spirit is infectious and has the power to start and sustain multiple conscious movements at once. Guided by the creator, my ancestors, and my father Tahuti AnkhmenRa Amen Taylor, honorable and undeniable spirit, I have made it my purpose to celebrate my heritage. I AM empowered by knowledge, and my goals are to build sustainable, innovative nations and artistic societies so that we can become more self-reliant and resilient as we redefine our realities.
By highlighting and working with world-renowned artists and historians who reside and still practice African Culture here in Detroit. Ultimately, I will share my research experience of studying traditional African Diasporic art forms that are universal learning methods that can be utilized to bring forth healing, stimulating energy, and abundance to any community. I will compare and contrast both my experiences of being abroad where these ideas and methodologies were created and look closer at how they have sustained. Additionally, I am most interested in dissecting how this knowledge has traveled and passed down to various cities/ artistic spaces such as Detroit. Finally, I will take a closer look at the universal connections between African traditions, cultures, and art forms by gaining a deeper understanding of the dances, music, and multicultural history.”
RSVP PERFORMANCE DATES + TIMES: ($10 ADMISSION)
FRIDAY, JULY 22ND, 7PM: AN UNMASKING OF THYSELF:
ACT I: “An Unmasking of Thyself” Performance: Opening Night by Imani Ma’at
FRIDAY, JULY 29TH, 7PM: UNMASKING DADDY
ACT II: “Unmasking Daddy” Performance by Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5TH, 7PM: UNMASKING OF HEARTBREAK
ACT III: “Unmasking Heartbreak” Performance by Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12TH, 7PM: UNMASKING OF JOY (CLOSING)
ACT IV: “Unmasking Joy” Performance by Imani Ma’at AnkhmenRa Amen
Exhibition is on view by appointment only during gallery hours through August 12th.
THURSDAY- SATURDAY 12-5PM
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