KESSWA: TRANSCENDENCE

Kesswa: Transcendence

September 29, 2023 – February 4, 2024

Black Box Theater


Image credit: KESSWA, Transcendence, 2023. Film still. Runtime: Variable. Courtesy of the Artist.

Transcendence  welcomes you into an exploration of Black femme freedom in an illuminated landscape. KESSWA, a performative avatar created by artist Kesiena Wanogho, invites you on a journey to the North Star–the city of Detroit–also known as the last stop in the United States on the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada. The journey to freedom is one that many formerly enslaved persons bravely took throughout the 19th century. The practice of migration has endured across generations following the emancipation proclamation into the 20th century as Black folks journeyed north to find work, build families, and create the culture that has defined Detroit. 

The path through Transcendence  starts in North Carolina at the site of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, led by white supremacists that targeted Black businesses and residents. Wilmington was economically devastated by this violence, and Black residents have made many attempts to recover, rebuild, and preserve the legacy of Black landowners, doctors, and cultural workers. In this new body of work, KESSWA bridges landscapes scarred by the legacy of white violence and displacement of Black people.

Transcendence  uses virtual reality to consider liberatory movement, capturing landscapes and staging performances of joy and pleasure to capture the beauty of historically Black-owned land, specifically forefronting the experience of Black femmes. This exhibition reflects on the euphoric experiences of Black women affected by displacement because of the marginalization of women’s voices during the retelling of this history. Transcendence  calls for transgenerational recollections of the legacies of the freedom found in landscapes from the Deep South to the Midwest.

About the Artist


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Events


There are currently no events scheduled for this exhibition. Please check out our Events page for other upcoming events.

Press + Media


Exhibition title  in Publication, Month Day, Year

Exhibition title  in Publication, Month Day, Year

Exhibition title  in Publication, Month Day, Year

Transcendence  is curated by MOCAD’s Artistic Director Jova Lynne with Assistant Curator M. Pofahl. The exhibition was made possible with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.