Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2014-15

(Brooklyn, NY)Aisha Cousins

Project Description

"The Soulville Census" is a performance art score which explores how the changing makeup of the USA's black population connects to the election of our first black (Kenyan-American) president. It grew out of a 365 day performance, executed from 2009-2010, in which the artist attempted to process and document the experience of having her first black president. "The Soulville Census" both documents and responds to the 2010 US Census' decision to record Caribbean Americans, African immigrants, and blacks who were brought to the US via slavery under the same checkbox, thus concealing the population changes that were central to Obama's election. The project will be performed at several black cultural festivals in Brooklyn, NY by four uniformed black female "census takers" as a means of engaging black Americans from a range of geographic backgrounds in examining how a census can be used to illuminate or conceal important sociological shifts.


Aisha Cousins writes performance art scores that engage black audiences from different backgrounds in exploring their ideas about beauty and processing the changes taking place in their worlds. Her work has been performed independently on the streets of historically black neighborhoods from BedStuy to Brixton, as well as in conjunction with The Laundromat Project, Weeksville Heritage Center, Project Row Houses, the Museum Of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, The Kitchen, and MoMA PS1. She is currently collaborating with Greg Tate and his band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber on a project called "Brer Rabbit: The Opera" as part of BRIC's 2014 Fireworks Residency. You can view artifacts from the 365 day performance which inspired her Franklin Furnace project at the Brooklyn Museum in the exhibition "Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond" from October 2014 through January 2015.