Content Warning: This exhibition contains content that directly addresses sexual violence.

Choreographies of Disclosure: What the Mind Forgets is a socially engaged, long-form project, organized by performance artist Jadelynn Stahl in collaboration with LGBTQ multidisciplinary artists who have been impacted by sexual violence. The project seeks to create tangible, visionary spaces which uplift the voices of queer and trans survivors* and secondary-survivors**; voices that are often left out, co-opted or forgotten in the mainstream movement to end sexual assault. The exhibition manifests artistic provocations which endeavor to incite dialogues surrounding the impact of sexual violence as it intersects with queer and trans identities, as well as community forums which center queer and trans visions of a world without the ever-present threat of sexual assault – a world in which we are the architects of our own healing and liberation.

The project is an artistic investigation into how the traumatized body is perceived and how the somatic expressions of an individual who has experienced assault are interpreted. It reflects queer and trans assault survivor’s stories in a different way: through the ways our bodies speak when our words are not enough. Survivor-collaborators have consented to share aspects of their story(ies) with Stahl, who then transformed these disclosures into pieces of written choreography – sequences of actions which function both as performative instruction and poetic document. These documents were then provided to Bay Area queer and trans artists, who developed multidisciplinary works to the content in the medium of their choosing, all responses to the somatic expressions of a survivor in the act of disclosure.

Throughout the process, survivors had co-authorship and final say regarding the outcome of each work, allowing the process to therefore become restorative, as each remained the indisputable expert of their, her or his own stories. The resulting artistic works – four written choreographies and four response works – anchor the five-week exhibition, and are supplemented by performances, panels, and community forums facilitated by local organizers and artists. These events will provide opportunities for transformative encounters within our artistic and social communities, celebrating and reflecting upon queer and trans survival, resistance and resilience.

Header image: Performance collaboration between Jadelynn Stahl and Lydia Greer. Photographer: Quinn Peck.

Participating Artists: Eliza Barrios, Cassandra Clark, Oriana Doria-Quesada, Leslie Dreyer, Angela Hennessy, Lydia Greer, Jo Howard, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, LeahAnn Mitchell #lamfemmebear, Quinn Peck, Reaa Puri, Azin Seraj, Jadelynn Stahl.

Jadelynn Stahl (organizing artist, writer, curator) is an interdisciplinary performance artist and community organizer based in Oakland, California. Fusing elements of durational art, video, ritual and burlesque, her work seeks to centralize and complicate socially prevalent narratives concerning systemic cultures of violence, in particular gender-based violence and forced assimilation. As a queer, bi-racial, cis woman survivor of sexual and intimate partner assault, Stahl offers her body as a site of artistic investigation, exploring somatic and psychological expression in relation to legacies of trauma as well as cultural, racial and sexual identities via performance and direct art-action.

As a community organizer, Stahl works collaboratively to incite dialogues which contribute to the movement to end sexual assault. In the Bay Area, she has worked with Slutwalk SF, Women Organized to Resist and Defend, SFWAR, La Casa de las Madres, Ruby’s Place and the Berkeley Coalition Against Sexual Violence, as well as currently serving as the LGBTQIA+ Program Manager and Clinical Coordinator at BAWAR. Nationally, she is working with the art-activist effort FORCE, as part of the leadership team of the 2019 culminating display of the Monument Quilt, a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. In addition, she is the co-founder and lead coordinator of DISCLOSE, a queer, Oakland-based collective of artists and educators committed to organizing arts-based community engagement in the eradication of sexual violence.

Public Programs

Opening Reception

Friday, Jan 11, 6 – 9 PM

Visioning Session

Wednesday, Jan 30, 6 – 8 PM

Doors will close at 6:20.

This space is open to self-identified LGBTQIA+ folx ONLY. Cisgender heterosexual allies are respectfully asked not to attend. More information can be found here.

Artist Talk

Thursday, Feb 7, 6:30 – 8 PM

Join the artists for a conversation facilitated by Kin Folkz, Founder of SPECTRUM Queer Media and Director of Healing Arts and Community Wellness at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center. In this public talk, the participants will explore the artistic method behind the exhibition’s work, and discuss the importance of uplifting queer and trans narratives within the movement to end sexual violence.

Closing Reception, Performance and Procession

Friday, Feb 15, 6 – 9 PM, Performance 7:30 PM

To close this exhibition, we will engage in a celebratory performance ritual which seeks to honor and incite the LGBTQIA+ community’s radical ferocity and indomitable resilience.  Performances by Vanessa Rochelle Lewis and Jadelynn Stahl will be anchored by projections designed by artist Azin Seraj. Queer and trans resistance and liberation will be uplifted as we close this restorative space with intentions to carry our visions forward. Allies are invited to attend and participate.

Small snacks will be provided.

These will be a low-scent spaces. Please refrain from wearing artificial scents. Pro Arts is wheelchair accessible.

2/13/19 The organizers of the final performance of Choreographies project regret to inform you that we are no longer able to provide ASL interpretation for our closing event. We learned on Wednesday night that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the two interpreters we had originally secured are no longer available. They handled this communication with much grace and deep respect, and we are grateful to them.

We want to express our profound apologies to our Deaf and Hard of Hearing community for not being able to make this event accessible to you. While the gallery exhibit itself contains no sound, the performance will have music and poetry. We will be happy to provide print-outs of the script for the performance in its entirety for anyone that would still like to join us. They will be available at the front door.

 *The word ‘survivor’ is being used here as short-hand to denote individuals who have experienced sexual assault. It should be noted, however, that not all who have been impacted by sexual violence identify with this word.

** In this context, we define this word as a person who may be close community or family to a person who has experienced sexual assault. These people can often experience impact around the assault, sometimes referred to as vicarious trauma. 

The participants within this exhibition acknowledge that the expressions herein reflect only a small representation of queer and trans voices, and do not endeavor to speak on behalf of the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence as a whole.

This project is made possible through the support of the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation and through the donations of numerous community members. Additional funds are provided by Pro Arts’ Visual Art Program partners the Zellerbach Family Foundation, The Fleishhacker Foundation, and the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program.