What She Says: The Surrealist Art of Simone Leigh
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memory as a psychological experience. The score written for Uhura (Tanka), by musician Kaoru Watanabe, creates a narrative and emotional environment for the piece. 

EBONY: Could you speak more about the violence that surrounds "Herero" and what it means in your work?

Simone Leigh: The Herero genocide took place between 1904-1907 on land that is in current day Namibia, and is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th Century. A result of the Herero peoples’ attempt to rebel against German colonialism, they died en masse in the ensuing starvation and thirst. Some Herero people had replaced their earlier traditional dress with gowns that are looked like they were of Victorian English origin. They transformed this Victorian silhouette, with indigenous fabrics and what I would describe as a black aesthetic--over doing it -- apparently up to nine petticoats are required for Herero realness!  The transformed Herero clothing also includes a horn-like headdress. I became interested in Herero traditional dress because of how it makes the body look cross-like.

Simone Leigh’s You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been is on view at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY through March 11, 2012. For more information visit: www.simoneleigh.com