Aisha Cousins, the first artist profiled her e on Black Butterfly, continues to inspire and delight with her Diva Dutch performance pie ce. Cousin s' work has caught the attention of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Diva Dutch is featured in the Spring issue of the museum's magazine. If you're like me, you can't get enough of one of the art world's most promising rising stars. So here's a little more, and expect to see a lot more from Aisha Cousins.
All images c/o Studio Magazine
Published in Studio: The Studio Museum in Harlem Magazine Spring 2009
Aisha Cousins, 30
by Khary Polk
Aisha Cousins and I sit on the floor of her Bedford-Stuyvesant studio, sharing brown rice tea and eating pink and green mochi from Midtown. B ags of synthetic hair, children’s pop beads and vintage baby doll dresses–components in her per formance art pieces–are neatly arranged throughout the space. The pop beads l ook like candy, I say, and she encourages me to pop one in my mouth.
I bite down on colored plastic as Cousins tells me about her current work, Diva Dutch, a remarkable synthesis of hair-braiding and rope-jumping. “It’s a natural evolution of things that black girls in black urban areas across the country already do,” she says. She weaves synthetic hair into a single ten- to fifteen-foot braid, a nd then plaits it on the pigtails of two women, creating a tangible conduit that also functions as a fierce skipping rope. Cousins has performed Diva Dutch on the streets of Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn), Brixton (London) and Barbès-Rochechouart (Paris).
“I’ve become fascinated with the idea of how black culture would evolve if black folks had a separate territory, with an economy and culture shaped in response to our habits, our interests,” she says. I remind her that the beauty supply store where she purchases her “Sensationnel” brand hair is located on Fulton Street, one of the longest stretches of black-owned businesses in the country. “Not anymore,” she counters. Raised in Bed-Stuy, Cousins has seen the neighborhood change. “Black enclaves all over the country are disappearing and no one seems to be concerned about how this will affect the evolution of black, U.S. or international culture,” she says.
Copyright 2009 Studio Magazine.