What is the relationship between a collective and individual voice? Exploring both historical and present-day ways groups of people speak and assemble in public, artist Sharon Hayes has created moving and rigorously thoughtful videos, performances, and installations. In her work, past and current politics are intimately interwoven with considerations about how and why people come together.
For MoMA, Hayes shares an excerpt from her current work-in-progress, Ricerche: two, which centers around a group discussion with members of two Dallas-based women’s tackle football teams, the Arlington Impact and the Dallas Elite Mustangs. Filmed in early February 2020, it features interviews with players about their passionate commitment to a sport, the joys they find within the physicality of the game, and pressing issues of gender and equity that inform both football and life beyond the field.
That collective identity is never singular or unified, but rather shifts within larger political contexts.
When this video is complete, it will be the third in Hayes’s ongoing series called Ricerche, Italian for “research.” In each installment, Hayes interviews groups of people in outdoor spaces, a structure she has borrowed from the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, who used it in the 1963 film Comizi d’Amore to explore people’s views of sex and sexuality. In the first Ricerche video, Hayes interviewed a group of students at an all-women’s college, and the second gathered together children of queer and gender-nonconforming parents. Hayes expands on Pasolini’s approach and brings it into the present, creating intimate, detailed, and at times heated examinations of collective identification.
Sharon Hayes. Ricerche: one. 2019. Production still
What emerges in all three of Hayes’s Ricerche works is that collective identity is never singular or unified, but rather shifts within larger political contexts. Ricerche: two was filmed just weeks before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic, and before the current global uprisings against systemic racism. Within our current moment, I find it especially moving to see these powerful athletes in close proximity and joyfully owning their own strength. Hayes’s work-in-progress poses urgent questions about how we might talk and move with fearlessness and pleasure as we address the future together.
Sharon Hayes. Ricerche: three. 2013. HD video still. Left to right: Jasmine Brown, Laakan McHardy, Pavel Lopez, Anarkalee Perera, Zehra Ali Khan, Alyssa Simari, Lyla Eaton, and Sara Amjad
We presented an excerpt of Sharon Hayes’s film Ricerche: two from June 17 through July 3, 2020. The film is no longer available here for streaming.
The header image is a production still from Sharon Hayes. Ricerche: two. 2020. Pictured (l to r): Ken Gabriel, Luckey Townson, Kim Rose, Deezy Ricks. Photo: Rolando Sepulveda II