The work of New York-based artist Steffani Jemison is rooted in research and combines time-based media and discursive platforms to examine African-American culture. Exploring the limitations of language, Jemison’s work resists the logic of conventional storytelling to expose the entanglements of time, history and progress.
Her new commission Sensus Plenior [Latin for “Fuller Meaning”] considers the relationship between language, gesture and song in black gospel mime, focusing on the work and ideas of ordained minister Susan Webb and the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem. Through their elaborate and ecstatic choreography, gospel mime performers draw on dual genealogies that can be traced both to the revolutionary mime artist Marcel Marceau and West African dance traditions. In her videos, Jemison complicates the boundaries of performance and cinema, allowing the audience to become suspended outside structures of linear time and controlled meaning.