We’ve Always Been Here, Like Hydrogen, Like Oxygen
Double channel video // 7min 22sec // 2020
Artist LaRissa Rogers washes her body as a ritual of labor and self-care. She does this on the Richmond Slave Trail and the African Burial Ground in Richmond, VA, and places her body in these locations to comment on notions of safety within public and private spheres. The spaces in which Black people and their bodies should be safe and cared for yet are vulnerable and exposed. The use of oranges stems from the Latasha Harlins Murder of ‘92 but becomes a metaphor for talking about the erasure of women of color throughout time and space.She washes her body with oranges and oranges cast from orange juice on one screen, while slowly caressing and subsequently melting a frozen orange on the other. The text alternates on both screens, one side speaking to the physical and psychological repercussions of white supremacy and the other reflecting upon the need for love, safety, and restoration to expand the spaces and possibilities for black people to exist without being under a constant state of threat.
The artist is interested in the relationship between survival and self-care. During the repetition of washing herself on the slave trail, the oranges and landscape become implicated in the ritual of memory, commemoration, identity, and self-realization. Commenting on the connectivity of time, and how the past and present exist simultaneously, the performance becomes an act of self-care while imagining a place where Black women and girls are protected and cared for. Washing becomes synonymous with care as a labor of resistance, love, and healing. Bathing her body in oranges attempts to make that invisible labor of self-care more visible as the oranges stain the artists clothes.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
LaRissa Rogers (b. 1996) is a visual artist born in Charlottesville, VA. She holds a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and BIS in International Fashion Buying from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has exhibited work and performed in institutions such as ICOSA in Austin TX, Fields Projects in NY, Welcome Gallery in Charlottesville VA, Target Gallery in Alexandria VA, 1708 Gallery in Richmond VA, Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville VA, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville VA, Black Ground in Cali Colombia, W Doha in Qatar, The Fronte Arte Cultura in San Ysidro CA, Frieze Seoul in Korea, Documenta 15 in Kassel Germany, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach VA. She is the 2021-2022 Visual Arts fellow at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, a 2021-2022 Black Spatial Relics artist in residence, and a 2021-2022 grant recipient of the Black Artists and Designers Guild Creative Futures Grant. She is currently pursuing her MFA in New Genres at the University of California Los Angeles and is a 2022 summer artist-in-resident at BEMIS Center of Contemporary Arts.