Manual The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption and Identity

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It is evident, moreover, that the experience of migration and the challenges of a new environment often accelerate the pace of such change. It explores both the relationship between migration and racism, and the formation of ethnic identity. In striving to lay bare the dialectics of this latter process, it confronts the political implications of the new identities being forged by black people in Britain.

As I endeavour to show, the exploration of aspects of black identity is by no means a merely academic exercise: the way in which black people identify themselves within British society has a direct bearing upon their political capacities and practices. Consciousness and action are bound closely together. For our purposes, it is instructive to compare the forces that shaped the first generation of migrants with the experience of their descendants. Mike knows that adoptees are erased from their history. Nothing ahappened to us apparently until we were adopted.


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Saved from one oblivion and dumped into another. Our existence is determined solely by our relationship to the state and the people to whom the state transfers our bodies. In "Check the Bastard Box," Mike descries this erasure: I do not have legal access to my own immediate or extended family members, medical records or heritage. My name was changed three times before my tenth birthday, and these name changes were allegedly meant to convey a sense of inclusion into those new facsimiles of family units. In reality, however, what adoption did in both cases was to simply transfer ownership of a human being from the state to unrelated private citizens upon completion of sizable financial transactions.

I can't end this review without sharing what happens when Mike attempts to obtain birth family non-ID information from the State of New York. Almost 30 years after the fact, Peter M Carucci, Director of Vital Records wrote to inform me that my parents were white, Americans and that my father was male and that my mother was female In I had a similar experience. Unlike Mike, I had already received my birth records from the State of Ohio, but I was looking for information about my unnamed father.

I was informed by a social worker from Toledo Crittentden Services that my father was white, a high school drop-out , blue-eyed and male.

The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption and Identity - Adoptee Reading

In the end, Mike jettisons' Fake Mike and claims his original self: I took back my own name for myself, but I also did it for my sister and my brother and for the thousands of adoptees whose lives, identities, and families are still being held hostage by the State of New York. CT: Report is as much about film as it is about performance, conflated, in fact, in a filmed performance.

PF : A filmed performance offers just another possibility of using and, at the same time, avoiding live theater. Liberty City was epic theater in the genre of documentary aesthetics—actually in the form of a short loop, taking the infamous Arthur McDuffie incident and the dramaturgy of the Miami riots as a reference. The tableaux vivants of Bilbao Song —a phantasmagorical allegory inspired by Basque history—were specifically staged for the camera in a theater near Bilbao. Report is different because it resorts more than any other work to speech and language.

CT : You lay out another stage awaiting activation in Teatro Popular —17 by introducing elements from Portuguese street theater that go far beyond the traditional repertoire and set into motion a myriad of narratives. Here, too, like in The Dramatist , you created a cast of idiosyncratic characters which, in this case, relates to the history of the Lusophone world. PF : The traditional Teatro Dom Roberto is a minor art, based on typecasting and repetition, with a very restricted repertoire and cast. Its stage, the barraca , is a minimalist DIY construction covered with cloth, which conceals the puppeteer inside from the public gaze.


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  • My barracas are prototypes that can be set up and dismantled without any tools. I use them and the hand puppets to create my own idiosyncratic Lusophone universe, peopled with characters from different centuries and continents. In it, you can find, for example, the Sephardic astronomer Abraham Zacuto —ca. His Almanach Perpetuum revolutionized ocean navigation. The promise of royal glamour is embodied by the unfortunate king Dom Sebastian I, whose ideas of a late crusade led him to embark on a fatal military adventure in North Africa in Dom Nicolau ca.

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    There are also fictional characters, such as Ilsa Lund Ingrid Bergman , who wants to escape Morocco on a plane to Lisbon in Casablanca. I made all of the figurines with the help of a local puppeteer in Lisbon. Peter Friedl, Teatro Popular detail , — Mixed media, dimensions variable. CT: Are the motionlessness in the display of the four impenetrable barracas and the array of unused puppets meant to dismantle certain conceptions of power in the representation of history and its protagonists?

    PF: Teatro Popular is a sort of shadow fighting with realism and mimesis. This theater gives the impression that it may start to perform at any moment. Instead, it remains silent and still as if the fall of individualization and historiographic fixation had cast a spell on all these heroes and heroines.

    But there are no people either. The people are missing, as Paul Klee said. I think in the traditional genre of popular theater, the dramatis personae were more protected. It was a place to find refuge from the excesses of history. I try to explore how history works. No prey, no pay —19 was produced for the Sharjah Biennial, in the Persian Gulf, formerly known as the Pirate Coast. This is how we differ in our interest in piracy. PF: The fascinating thing about pirates lies beyond genre-specific fandom. All histories and biographies of piracy get close to fiction. The history of piracy is fictitious, and the images circulating around it are even more so.

    Yet, inadequate, imperfect documents show how imagination works. Just take, for example, the sketches done by Harro Paul Harring, a professional German-Danish revolutionary and a bad poet, who in traveled to Brazil to fight slavery. Every history is open to projection, but the history of piracy is wide open.

    This goes far beyond the question of whether such projections are right or wrong.

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    It also goes beyond celebrating supposedly forgotten or hidden counter-histories of the revolutionary Atlantic. Peter Friedl, Teatro Popular , — Installation view, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. CT: What makes No prey, no pay so appealing to counter-historical narratives is precisely its strong piratical subtext. In this multipart work composed of an Islamic green flag with a white skeleton stitched on, circus plinths, and fancy pirate costumes, a global history of piracy is hinted at, but never fully revealed under the garments of the grotesque.

    PF: Well, as far as we know, Edward Low — used a red skeletal figure on a black background for his Jolly Roger.

    Maurice Merleau-Ponty

    Low is remembered as one of the most notorious and murderous pirates. Anyway, I think the concept of counter-history is a little schematic. I think the idea of a pirate ship as an anti-state model for multicultural or multiracial coexistence is naive. CT: The circus plinths are named after fictional and historical figures. They are all personifications of sorts, between Robin Hood antiheroes—or heroines—and sans-culotte martyrs, struggling for agency and autonomy.

    Neither do M. PF: Little Ben is a monochrome portrait of Benjamin Lay — , the Quaker dwarf who demanded the total emancipation of all enslaved Africans around the world.

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    Chocolat refers to Rafael Padilla, the Afro-Cuban clown who around became one of the first successful black entertainers in France. Joice stands for Joice Heth, obviously. When P. Barnum exhibited the elderly, blind African-American woman in as the year-old former nurse of George Washington, his showman career in antebellum America took off. CT: But the main formal reference remains the circus plinth. For sure, the age of Barnum continues to be reincarnated and prevail. And context is always a construction.