'The New Black Yoga' originally was born from a film that I had made prior called 'Black Yoga.' And I was living in Berlin at the time, dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress around the project that I was working on, which is not an abnormal thing for me.
I've always had an interest in complicating the way that we perceive the black character, whether it's the black academic or scholar or activist or black intellectual.
I was born in Evanston, about three blocks away from the Chicago border. My mother, at the time, was finishing her Ph.D. in African History at Northwestern University. Soon after my birth, my parents split, and my father moved to Wicker Park, which is on the north side of the city.
I wanted my art to deal with very formal concerns and to deal with very material concerns, and to deal with antecedents and art history, which for me go very far beyond just the influence of African-American artists.
Dealing with actors is incredibly complex because they oftentimes are like pieces of clay. They want to be told how you want it done. You have to then decide if you want to be the teller or if you want to give them agency.
Race, class, childhood experience, the books I found on my mother's bookshelf, the albums I found in my father's basement - these things are all part of who I am and will always be a part of my work.
My father ran a CB radio business. I grew up in a cluttered space that was filled with radios and antennas. It felt alien.
Growing up in Chicago, there was a very particular type of home that would display the black Jesus figure. It wasn't a radical home. You wouldn't find these in a Black Panther house. There's still a strong allegiance to Christianity.
The thing that turned out to be interesting about CB radios was the ability to call out in the world with anonymity. You choose your handle. Race and class become non-signifiers.
I was going through a divorce, and I had a lot of reading I was doing, and I developed what was probably a serious anxiety problem - because I was about as poor as you can get, in graduate school, and trying to make my work and keep my head above water.
When I was young, I remember feeling a real thirst for opportunities around the arts, for learning about how artists function and how institutions work.
The whole ability to look at the complexity of race and any sort of associated -ism and still find humor, that's a very interesting space.
I attempted to do yoga in German, and it was not particularly successful. So at that time, I started thinking about the idea of just movement and how I could move to de-stress.