Anna Wexler performing Tracks & Tracts in TRANSACTIONS, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2018, photo: Jordan Hutchings
Anna Wexler is an interdisciplinary artist who works with text, installation and ritually inflected performance. Her projects often explore creative resistance to racial capitalism and the systemic violence that sustains it. As a politically engaged artist, she is inspired by collaborative work that fuses radical aesthetics and insurgent social practices across contexts and communities.
She received her doctorate in education at Harvard University; her ethnographically based dissertation, supported by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard, was based on an artistic apprenticeship with the Haitian Vodou priest and ritual flagmaker, Clotaire Bazile. She has published essays, interviews and poetry related to her doctoral project and subsequent artistically focused research in Haitian and Cuban cultural contexts. The opportunity to participate in the ritual healing forms and practices of Haitian Vodou and Cuban Santería, shaped by legacies of resistance to slavery and colonialism, is a continuous source of inspiration within her interdisciplinary practice.
With the Vodou priest and performer, Erol Josué, she created Gullah Jack’s Bag, an intermedia performance produced at Mobius that explored New England’s complicity with the slave trade and African Atlantic traditions of resistance. Other projects have included Vessel for Haiti with Catherine Tutter, an ongoing sequence of participatory performances honoring those who perished in the 2010 Haitian earthquake and those engaged in the struggle for environmental justice in its aftermath, most recently at Vassar College. In partnership with Irène Itkine, she developed a performative homage to a legendary Marseille cooperative that functioned as a Resistance nexus, sanctuary and desperately needed source of livelihood for many artists, militants, and Jewish refugees fleeing the Occupied Zone in France and elsewhere in Nazi dominated Europe. The performances contributed to the historical-artistic programming of Marseille/Provence 2013, the year of that city’s designation as a European Capital of Culture.
More recently, her work has focused on the search for habitable exoplanets, or worlds orbiting other stars, and its interface with the critical question of the limits of Earth’s habitability for our species and countless others as posed by climate change. With a cross-disciplinary artist group, she developed a durational meditative performance process, Kepler 438b (Mobius, 2015), concentrating on one earthlike exoplanet and renewing ethical engagement with our own planet through envisioning alternative life forms and biospheres. Interstellar Sanctuary, co-curated with Jesseca Ferguson and commissioned by the Boston Center for the Arts for their “Run of the Mills” series (2018), was an intermedia, audience engaged program that extended this creative inquiry into new social critical and visionary expressive fields.
She is currently working on archival and performance based projects exploring prison abolition as a pivot of the struggle for racial justice in the U.S. and the radical social transformation needed to achieve it. In a durational performance in Belfast, Northern Ireland (Mobius/Bbeyond exchange, 2018) ), she linked contemporary and historical expressions of abolitionism by invoking the actions of a 19th century Irish anti-slavery feminist along the docks of that city. At present, she is creating an intermedia archive of the activism of three mothers whose sons were known as the Soledad Brothers (Fleeta Drumgo, John Clutchette and George Jackson) because of their alleged involvement in the murder of a guard in the California prison by that name in 1970. Inez Williams, Doris Maxwell and Georgia Jackson, respectively, galvanized the defense campaign that coalesced nationally and internationally on behalf of their sons and all others imprisoned through the racist mechanisms of the American criminal justice system.
Please see a video interview filmed in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a more extensive overview of her work and sources: http://www.nvtv.co.uk/?s=Anna+Wexler
Artists page thumbnail : Anna Wexler performing in Interstellar Dating Service, part of INTERSTELLAR SANCTUARY co-curated with Jesseca Ferguson, Boston Center for the Arts, 2018, photo: Marilyn Arsem
Medicine Bag created by Anna Wexler for GULLAH JACK’S BAG performed at Mobius, Boston, 2002, photo: Anna Wexler
Poster for Anna Wexler and Irène Itkine’s performance homage to the cooperative Le Fruit Mordoré, Marseille, France, 2013
Anna Wexler performing in VESSEL FOR HAITI II, co-conceived with Catherine Tutter, Mobius, Boston 2010, photo: Bob Raymond
Anna Wexler with students at Vassar College and Vodou Flag by Clotaire Bazile, VESSEL FOR HAITI IV, co-conceived with Catherine Tutter, 2014, photo: Catherine Tutter
Anna Wexler performing in Milk & Licenses, part of Mobius event CONCRETE ACTIONS, with Margaret Bellafiore and Mari Novotny-Jones, Boston City Hall, 2017, photo: Phil Fryer
Anna Wexler performing in Interstellar Dating Service, part of INTERSTELLAR SANCTUARY, co-curated with Jesseca Ferguson, Boston Center for the Arts, 2018, photo: Jane Wang