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The Bag Lady Manifesta



Photographer: Kali-Ma Nazarene

Taja Lindley's creative practice is an interdisciplinary, performative, visual and immersive ritual – communing and communicating with Spirit and ancestors in and beyond the stage and studio. She is motivated by a deep desire for transformation and healing – of herself, her people, and the circumstances and conditions in which we live.


When she created "This Ain’t A Eulogy: A Ritual for Re-Membering," she was processing Black death – the police officers responsible for the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were not indicted for their crimes. A seething reminder of the ubiquitous ways in which Black life is taken with impunity. Through movement, costuming and installation she began drawing parallels between discarded materials and the violent treatment of Black people in the United States. Every black plastic bag represents a Black life. So when she creates ornate environments, costumes and performances with them, it is an honoring of the dead. Informed by her burlesque performance practice, she employs beauty as reverence to transform what has been considered disposable into something sacred.


In tandem with performance she creates immersive installations for people to connect more deeply with themselves and the content of the performance, and this has led to the development of her solo exhibition "Re-Membering is the Responsibility of the Living" which debuted at the Carver Museum in Austin, Texas in 2019.


This current body of work has become "The Bag Lady Manifesta" – an interdisciplinary project featuring immersive ritual performance, installation, film, costuming, and a sold-out visual monograph urgently grappling with the current and historical socio-political climate that makes anti-Black policies, practices and culture possible. She is concerned with memory, ancestral healing practices, the choreography of protest, and the role of art(ist)s in creating lasting social change. Much like the genesis of this work, she continues to root her creative process in research about the Black lives that have been taken - learning about their lives and the incident that took their life.

The Bag Lady Manifesta premiered at Dixon Place Theater in 2017 as the culmination of her artist residency, and has since toured nationwide, featured at museums, galleries, theaters, universities, cultural centers, and performance festivals.

Visit the gallery for images from this and other performances.


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