Franklin Furnace News & Events

Shaun Leonardo's

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
The 8th Floor
17 W 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

Space is limited. Please RSVP to:

Hosted by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, I Can't Breathe is a public-participatory workshop and performance that takes the form of a self-defense class. Participants learn a range of self-defense technique – from purely pacifist, self-protective maneuvers (including how one may relieve the pressure of a chokehold) to more overt, defensive strategies.

Transitioning into a performative action, the artist then recites a script inspired by Nina Simone, while simultaneously giving participants verbal cues to re-enact the self-defense techniques just learned.

The overall, impromptu composition of defensive actions thus creates a reflection and meditation on our community's legacy of self-preservation, and continued desire/need/fight to protect and survive. The piece is conducted in memory of Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin… and countless others.

This public participatory performance will be followed by a conversation between the artist and Dr. Isaiah B. Pickens, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and writer, on the subject of trauma – its impact on memory and one's ability to process suffering. The conversation will be centered on police relations with communities of color—specifically how fear and remembrance of both physical and psychological pain affects the relationship between law enforcement and young people of color.