Nana Chinara is a Black, Queer, and a gleaming glitterbeam. A performance ritualist, healing artist, youth educator, and loquacious lover, her craft calls upon exploring sweet intimacy with the self through self-research and self-reflection.
Chinara is a performing artist for Cracks of Light — Gibney’s annual performance series in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month alongside Gender/Power, Arielle Rosales, and Sanctuary for Families’ Survivor Leaders. We spoke with Chinara on modes of healing, facilitation, ritual, and more.
Nana Chinara, Photo by Kalyn Jacobs.
Why is it important for you to share this work in the context of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Cracks of Light series?
As a survivor of intimate partner violence, I often think about the healing stage as magical and easy. But it’s not. Healing is a long, circular, iterative, and often times ugly process. It’s hard work. As a Black Queer Femme survivor at that, I am told to just “be strong” and applauded by how strong I am. I have not been given permission to invest in my healing and I realize that I don’t need anyone’s permission other than my own. Confessional is a piece of work that explores the ugly and the magical side of healing, and one of the hardest barriers to break down in order to heal: self-doubt, and more importantly, the voice in my head that tells me that I have better things to do. I am excited to share a snippet of this work for Cracks of Light in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month because healing is integral to any conversation on violence against women—against anybody. I am so much more than the violence I have survived, and my healing is a never-ending part of myself that keeps unfolding.
You bring the perspective of both an artist and a community educator. How do you see these as informing each other? Are they connected, or are they separate?
Absolutely. My work as an artist plays the function of ritualizing my truth and offering a moment of reflection for witnesses. There is always a lesson to be learned or unlearned from watching any performance, and I know my work is being done when witnesses feel like something has been conjured deep inside of them, and they learn something new about themselves. My role as a community educator is to facilitate folks in getting low and finding knowledge in their bodies and lived experiences—whether that is on Black feminism, intimate partner violence, liberation, pleasure, youth empowerment, etc. I facilitate many of the same connections both in the classroom and on stage.
This is a confessional.
I stand here before you, humbling myself.
I have this toxic relationship with a love that does not feel good
Teaching myself to value what pushes me away
Believing that the harder I love, the more whole it is
While praying that I get an inch back in return
The more that I have loved, the more I have lost
I stare abundance in the face and I rebuke it
Why am I running from loneliness?
It is because I do not know how to sit with myself
Me in a room and a room in me feels like lost
Feels like falling
Feels like opening my eyes for the first time
I have been trying to love myself
I have been failing at loving myself
That would require a hugging of my insecurities
To sing them a song
And promise to watch them grow
I am taking my baths
I am burning my incense
I am dousing myself in this oil
I am drinking my teas
I am writing in this journal
I am talking to my ancestors
I am dancing
I am singing
I am praying
I am reading
I am loving
But I am not loving me
I do not know what loving me looks like
But I imagine it a space where my wounds are tended for
Where I lay at the bed of my blemishes
And offer them peace
I imagine it a state of recognition
A moment where I take a peek into my soul
Get stuck there
I do not know what loving me looks like
But my imagination invites me here
A promise to myself
That I am worth this unknown
– Nana Chinara
CRACKS OF LIGHT
OCT 25-26, 8:00 PM
$15 – $20