Site: St. Louis, MO, United States
Client: St. Louis Community College of Forest Park
Secret Stage was a performance installation based on the FBI files of the African-American singer and dancer, Josephine Baker. Born in St. Louis, she was acclaimed in France for her performances, civil rights activism, and assistance with the French Resistance in WWII. In the United States, Baker was less renowned and traced by the US government for her civil rights actions. When these records were made public, they were largely blacked-out as defense sensitive information.
We participated in the installation by designing the lighting, digital projector configurations, and stage podiums for the performers reading the FBI scripts. Like the blacked-out FBI files, the space relied on darkness and voids from digital projections to elicit the numerous crossings of censored text. At times, the digital projections illustrated her detailed files, while at others the projection beams and characters crossed to keep matters hidden. In these instances, the voice of the actors replaced illuminated text and exposed the government’s acts of repression.