Movement as a Vehicle to Freedom

‘Figure 8’ by Brooklyn-based artist explores the possibilities of freedom

By Kamal Morgan

In Steffani Jemison’s new project “Figure 8” she explores the ideas of movement, form and who moves whom. 

In collaboration with Light Work’s Urban Video Project, Jemison and athlete Alexis Page held a Zoom workshop April 15 to explain the newest exhibition. 

The project consists of a 20-minute video of Page holding a camera and performing a continuous figure eight pattern while sound recordings play of musings of conversations the pair have had together or of Page herself. 

Jemison’s past experience as a child gymnast, she said during the Zoom, helped shape her artistic mindset. 

“Gymnastics compared to some other sports, and in relation to dance, has a much greater emphasis on stability and balance … and can recenter yourself in every stage,” Jemison said. 

Her project sees how the mind and body engages with roaming and moving. She says freedom is a physical experience and a desire which people open up possibilities for themselves. 

Steffani Jemison

She describes this quest for freedom as an “unresolved and complex” issue where, she says, we try to understand our physical bodies and try to find words, noting language can create constraints on expression. 

In a clip of “Figure 8,” Page discusses her desire to learn a new language and how she can be critical of herself, which is in relation to moving in the world. 

“I can’t ever think about being fluent in a language and also fluent in my movement, you know?” Page said. “So, my question would be, when will I ever get fluent?  Flowing freely free!  I think that’s the best word to describe it for me — smooth and easy flow.”

Jemison’s focus is how knowledge is constructed and legitimized. This comes from her fascination with frameworks and interpretation, critical theory and vernacular tradition. She explores all of this through practices that encompasses sculpture, video, installation, sound and fiction writing. 

“Figure 8” continues to be on view from dusk to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, until June 5, on the facade of the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St.

Kamal Morgan is a journalism graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications