Fellow 2019/2020

Joy Mariama Smith

Performance, installation, and movement artist and educator Joy Mariama Smith’s work focuses on issues related to visibility, projected identities, and self-representation in different contexts, and investigates the interplay between the body and its cultural, social, and physical environment. In their* dance, performances, and installations, they create spaces in which the distinction between spectator and participant becomes blurred and visitors are encouraged to reflect on the ways in which they deal with space. They teach at SNDO-School for New Dance Development, Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam. Their work has been performed internationally, including at Freedom of Movement, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2018; If I Can’t Dance Edition VI – Event and Duration, Amsterdam, 2016; SoLow Festival, Philadelphia, 2015; and Ponderosa, Stolzenhagen, 2013. Smith lives and works in The Hague.


*They/them/their: third person singular gender-neutral pronoun.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

Joy Mariama Smith’s research praxis works with consent and agency as related to the contemporary. Smith begins with an understanding that moving toward a consent-based culture decentralizes hunger for power, and operates and catalyzes an important radical care, nurturance culture. Looking at consent’s relationship to power and privilege, Smith moves into practice-based research in the following areas: embodied consent, implicit consent, and explicit consent. Challenging the “universality” of the notion of consent, Smith looks to histories of consent and agency as well as their current definitions; uses cross-genre excavation to unearth ways to define and access a language of consent in the contemporary socio-political art context; collectively bolsters the theoretical frameworks around consent and agency in more accessible ways by using information and language from sources that already have a clear consent-based culture (e.g., BDSM and kink, Contact Improvisation, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Modern Circus-Partner Acrobatics); aims to raise awareness around consent and agency by using art and action, and looks at how consent culture exists (or does not) in various institutions. Can a culture of consent be created? If not, how to support an environment that facilitates an emergence of consent culture? What, how, and where does consent live in systems of de-individualized living? Can consent culture be generative? Why, when, and how was consent left out of realizing institutional environments? How to create institutions where emotional intelligence, de-centralized knowledge production, radical care, and empathy serves as frameworks for working through consent?