A New Performance Residency about Slavery, Justice and Freedom

about black spatial relics

Founded in 2016, the Black Spatial Relics (BSR) Residency supported the development of two new performance works that addressed and incorporated the public history of slavery and contemporary issues of justice.

In the 2016-2017 year, artists-in-residence ChE and James Jorsling convened at The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in October 2016 for three days of workshops, meetings, and studio development. During the Brown University Commencement Week (May 21-27, 2017), the artists presented their developed works. This work was made possible through generous support from the Heimark Artist-in-Residence Program

Black Spatial Relics 2019 is now an independent project, made possible with the support of individual donors and the 2019 Monument Lab Fellows program. Black Spatial Relics is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas.


The geographic mapping of this residency was inspired by the research of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Marker’s Project, a project that commemorates the ports of entry for slaving voyages in the transatlantic slave trade. Black Spatial Relics artists-in-residence  pay particular attention to the history of the slave trade and its legacies on the Eastern seaboard of the United States as well as other land-based histories of chattel slavery, fugitivity and liberation. Artists develop performances that engage music/sound, dance, theatre or performance installation and/or ritual, and spoken word. The residency enables artists to develop works that engage the public history of slavery and bridge or incorporate systemic and inherited connections with contemporary issues of injustice.

In working to commission multiple works of site responsive performance around spaces that are specific to histories of slavery, Black Spatial Relics engenders  transhistorical solidarity to the end of disrupting emergent repertoires of systemic and inherited legacies of injustice.


The Black Spatial Relics Residency supports the development of new performance works about slavery, justice and freedom by emerging and mid-career artists. Key to this effort is the convening of the artists toward the end of the residency in reflection on their processes and work. In supporting emergent artists and emergent creative thought, Black Spatial Relics holds a developmental space for collaborative imagining about freedom.


Arielle Julia Brown  is a creative producer, social practice artist and dramaturg.  Emerging from her work and research around U.S. slavery, racial terror and justice, Arielle is committed to supporting and creating Black performance work that commands imaginative and material space for social transformation. She is the founder of The Love Balm Project (2010-2014), a workshop series and performance based on the testimonies of women of color who have lost children to systemic violence. The Love Balm Project was developed and produced at cultural institutions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta.  More recently, Arielle developed The DoubleBack, a site specific performance about three enslaved Black women in Providence RI while in residence at the Center for Reconciliation. She is also the creative producer of Black Spatial Relics, a new performance residency about slavery, justice and freedom. Arielle is a co-creative producer on Remember2019, a performance and residency project based in Phillips County, Arkansas.  Arielle’s work and writing on Black political performance has been published in the anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines, ARTS.BLACK and Public Art Dialogue among others. Arielle was a 2017-2018 Diversity and Leadership Fellow with Alliance of Artists Communities. Arielle is a 2019 Monument Lab National Fellow. She serves as both the Public Programs Developer at the Penn Museum and as a cultural planning consultant for the Penn and Slavery Project at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. from Pomona College and was the 2015-2017 graduate fellow with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University where she received an M.A. in Public Humanities. To learn more about her work visit her website here