Spotlight on Kaneza Schaal
Kaneza Schaal’s KLII was recommended for Lab 1: Time by Daniel Alexander Jones, who said: In this performance, Kaneza took on the persona of King Leopold, who was the Belgian colonizer of the Congo, an architect of global genocide for the twentieth century. By inhabiting this persona and then by telling stories of her own family's journey. But by being in command, being the one who is the teller, she creates something full of joy. She finds a way, in this particular piece, to challenge us all to look at those little particles of the history from so long ago that we may think don't impact us. They're right here. They're right here with us, and we can move them and we can move with them. Always in her pieces, she does something where, all of a sudden in the room, time moves in away and you don't realize it happened until afterward. And you say, my goodness, we just time traveled. Note from Kaneza Schaal I have been thinking about the nature of evil. Today we look at a figure like King Leopold II with mock horror. His atrocities stun and outrage. But there are a thousand Leopolds all the time. How can we explore the impact of a Leopold? What does this look like in its own moment and in ours? However, we rarely look at a figure like Leopold without the safety of saying he is bad and we are done with him. There are new Leopolds every day. Unless we look at these Leopolds both within us and around us we are doomed to relive their horrors. Through the work, I point to the flush of revolutionary thought and practice that flooded between black people internationally in the mid- twentieth century and ignited movements of solidarity between formerly enslaved and colonized peoples around the world. A moment where the looking inward and outward at imperialism and evil mobilized powerful South-South alliances from Cuba to Ethiopia to Harlem to Vietnam to Haiti to Rwanda.
Stills from KLII Photography by Maria Baranova
Kaneza Schaal is a New York City-based artist working in theater, opera, and film. She was a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and her work has shown in divergent contexts from courtyards in Vietnam, to East African amphitheaters, to European opera houses, to US public housing, to rural auditoriums in the UAE, to domestic venues such as venues Brooklyn Academy of Music, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Kennedy Center, Walker Arts Center, and Los Angeles Opera. She’s an Arts-in-Education advocate and has also taught courses at Harvard University and Fordham University.