By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO
Renowned artist Jefferson Pinder will be presenting a limited-run performance piece exploring racial injustices throughout the U.S., including the historic 14th and U Street corridor.
“THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” is part of the Red Summer Tour by Pinder, presented on June 13 and June 14 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., at Source Theatre, CulturalDC’s Artspace at 1835 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. The activation is a highlight of CulturalDC’s 20th anniversary season.
In the late summer and early fall of 1919, violence and uprising erupted across the United States. Hundreds of Black lives were lost in the midst of a transitory period of unrest and hostility that was named The Red Summer. This summer, Pinder is embarking on a classic American journey: a road trip to visit major sites of The Red Summer.
In July 1919, in D.C., after rumors spread of a Black man sexually violating a White woman, White military officers incited four days of mob violence against Black individuals and businesses. Police backed away from involvement forcing Black people to protect themselves. Over 150 people were injured, and at least 15 people died.
Pinder was struck by the idea of World War I veterans who went off to war and came back to heightened experiences of racism, discrimination and violence.
“These survivors came back to Jim Crow south and to D.C. and Chicago, and what they experienced was a level of disrespect that didn’t equal to what they’ve done, and they were told to be fighting machines and they came back and they found out the real enemy was at home,” Pinder said.
Pinder and performers explore shooter drills, boxing and Bo staff training to delve into communal strength. Considering training techniques inspired by the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, The Black Panther Party and Marine Corps hand-drill training, the performance crew finds unity through ritualized physical routines.
“The piece more than anything is about coming together and knowing you have my back and you have my back and we’re going to go through this procedure together,” Pinder said.
Pinder will take his work to other riot sites including, Houston, TX, New Orleans, LA, Birmingham, AL, Chicago, IL – by car – to provoke conversations about racial injustices that occurred a hundred years ago and still make up the fiber of Black experiences nationwide.
In 2006 Pinder’s work was featured in a CulturalDC group shows called Assimilation/Dissolution that examined urban decay and shifting boundaries within D.C.
“It’s a real honor to have him back in his hometown presenting not only a historically relevant piece, but a geographically poignant performance,” says Kristi Maiselman, Executive Director of CulturalDC.
Pinder’s work has been exhibited at: The Studio Museum in Harlem; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT; Showroom Mama in Rotterdam, Netherlands; The Phillips Collection and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He was awarded a United States Artist’s Joyce Fellowship in the field of performance in 2016 as well as the Moving Image Acquisition Award and the John S. Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.
The art pieces will run about 60 minutes and are free and open to the public. For more information please go to CulturalDC.org.