Breath III (2023)
solo for percussionist
commissioned by Dustin Donahue
In this piece, every musical phrase is tied to the inhalation and exhalation of the performer. On one hand, this is about connecting with our body, our physical presence. But it is also about how our bodies labor to benefit institutions, corporations, and systems larger than the individual. This piece reflects not the interface with those massive systems but rather reflects one woman’s (my) personal negotiation of that labor that is externally imposed yet seems self-imposed in the moment. It is a quiet protest of how labor can so often feel invisible. Anger and resentment are wrapped into this but simultaneously subdued by defiance, pride, and a contradictory righteousness to uphold expectations.
In a time when people are rightly sensitive about who should and shouldn’t represent women, people of color, and oppressed voices, I invert the problem of representation here with the challenge of empathy. When a man takes on, embodies, and empathizes with these notions of the invisibility of female labor, then we are one step closer to being heard.