Powering Up / Powering Down 1/30/04-2/1/04
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D. Emily Hicks

“Black Velvet Butterflies in Cyberspace”

Hicks' performance Black Velvet Butterflies in Cyberspace is part of her ongoing research on music, citizenship and rights discourse. The first section juxtaposes the movement of demonstrators and busses through cities with that of information through a telephone switchboard. It includes two texts from a longer performance piece, The Chymical Wedding: “Carnival Against Capitalism” written after her participation in a political demonstration in London in 1999, and “Signatories of Magna Carta.”

The first section also includes two autobiographical texts, “The Education of Emily” and “Siciliano/Africano” along with Hicks' homage to Chicana writer Marisela Norte, “Black Velvet Butterflies.” In Hicks' view, Marisela Norte has activiated rhizomatic cultural links throughout Los Angeles, not only as a troubadour who rides the bus, but specifically in a metro art piece she did with photographer Willi Garcia in which she honored bus operators; it appeared on 2000 busses. In “The Education of Emily,” Hicks honors her own grandmother, who operated a switchboard that her father had set up in the living room of the house he built.

The second section focuses on music. “Cover” is a response to a music manifesto on Dan Plonsey's website. “I've Got the Blues” was written after Hicks had the opportunity to dine in San Diego with George Lewis and the experimental band Konk Pack.

Black Velvet Butterflies in Cyberspace closes with a text written for Lori Black, ex-bass player of The Melvins and daughter of Shirley Temple. Hicks and Black worked together on a holographic exhibition, The Peoples of Los Angeles, at held in conjunction with the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.


D. Emily Hicks, a performance artist and writer who teaches literature, literary theory and digital culture at San Diego State University, has been a member of several art collectives: Werkgruppe (with Daniel J. Martinez, Mark D and Lori Black); BAW-TAF (Border Art Workshop/Taller de arte fronterizo) and Las Comadres. She has performed and lectured in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Finland, Italy, Germany and Hungary. Hicks studied performance with Rachel Rosenthal and computer graphics with John Whitney. Her work has been reviewed in Art News, Art in America, Artforum and Artweek. She directed the Border Culture residency at Banff Centre for the Arts. Hicks appears in Igor Vamos’ film Le Petomane. She has written two books, Border Writing, the Multidimensional Text and Ninety-five Languages and is currently completing a book on Magna Carta, microtonality, redefinitions of citizenship and rights discourse.

“Powering Up/Powering Down” is sponsored in part by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and the UC San Diego Department of Music in connection with the departments of Visual Arts, Music, and Literature at UCSD along with the UC Riverside and Los Angeles campuses.