c. davida ingram, “i wish a motherfucker would”

c. davida ingram has been making work in seattle since 2006. jen graves describes one of her first pieces:

“Her earliest performance in Seattle was a 2006 piece called Come Hungry that involved making dinner for strangers from Craigslist. The ad she placed on Craigslist read: “Black woman willing to make your favorite meal. You bring the ingredients. I prepare. Come hungry.” These were one-on-one performances for white men done in the privacy of Ingram’s home. The interactions were “actually really human,” which is saying something, since they started from the inhuman premise of black submission to white desire.”

last year, she produced an interactive community art project called I Wish a Motherfucker Would where she invited people to the james and janie washington house in seattle’s central district, a historically black and? but? rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. the washingtons were artists and longtime community activists. someone who was at the event wrote:

“There were so many opportunities to boldly declare your wish for a better future.  Upon first arriving we were able to take a piece of cardboard and a Sharpee and write out our wishes using the phrase, “I wish a mother f—– would…”  You could then record your wish via audio and/or by posing with your sign while photographer Zorn B. Taylor snapped your photo.  It was nothing short of amazing.”

throughout the house, ingram situated sculptures—a mound of yams, piles of unprocessed cotton—and staged performances—like the dreamer in the greenhouse who you had to sing to in order to enter. all the performers and the photographer were people of color. photos and descriptions of the event depict a lush, softly lit, ritualistic space. other-worldly, but with obvious historical roots and referents.

i didn’t make it to I Wish a Motherfucker Would, but i did get to see and hear some of the artifacts from the event at a panel a few months later: audio recordings of people sharing what it felt like to like to dream, to hear and see other people dreaming, putting their dreams on paper, experiencing the environment ingram had created. for me, even the recap was powerful—an extension of the work itself.

while the project was significant on its own, it was also part of a larger constellation of work in the city instigated and/or supported by ingram, local community groups, and art institutions.

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