This talk examines Sharon Hayes’s performance video work Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29 (2003). In Hayes's restaging of Patty Hearst’s audio ransom notes, she enlivens a backwards scene of political radicalism. In her 1974 kidnap by the SLA, Hearst was tasked to escape back into the wealthy white culture of her birth, to return to the “us” of the popular media viewership that felt a need to reclaim the stolen property that was Hearst and her allegorical relevance. Cloaked in her position as media heiress, Hearst and her capture were highly visible. Playing on the optics of escape, the SLA knew that through her image their words would be broadcast and repeated; Hearst would become their microphone, a graspable object that would garner public attention. Thinking in line with Black philosophies of freedom that break from white logics of reason and transparency, and queer theories of temporality which move against linear straight time, in this talk I contend that Hayes’s veering strategies of escape are made through non-pragmatic movements of sonic repetition, linguistic infelicity, and constant audio-visual capture.
Katherine Brewer Ball is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies and affiliated faculty in African American Studies at Wesleyan University where she is also a faculty member at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP). Her current book project, The Only Way Out Is In: The Black & Queer Performance of Escape, traces contemporary literature, theater, and performance works by Glenn Ligon, Tony Kushner, Sharon Hayes, and Junot Díaz. In addition to teaching, Brewer Ball curates performance and art events, including the monthly NYC performance salon, Adult Contemporary, and publishes non-fiction.