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LINK UP artist Mandla Rae shares a bit about their work ahead of LINK UP (25-26 November 2020)

We’ve already shared our chats with Roma Havers and Mark Croasdale. Now we’re delighted to welcome Mandla Rae to your viewing screens, to share a bit about their work ahead of their event on Trauma and Black Womxnhood.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work as an artist?
I’m a writer and performance artist. I make work that is often on the surface about me and my experiences as an intersectional being as my starting point and hopefully that leads to a space for reflection on the wider world that we live in and to connect with other people’s own experiences. I play around with language and infuse elements of Ndebele – my first language, in my work a lot, mostly as an attempt to learn more about my language’s history and roots. This year I’ve been interested in the legacy of colonialism in Zimbabwe and how that’s affected queer history and language in the country where I was born.

What three words would you use to describe the piece you’re working on?

Messy, catharsis, sensory

Who are your guests for LINK UP and what led you to pick them as your particular guests for this event? 

Because I talk about my own childhood trauma in my show ‘as british as a watermelon’, I’ve chosen two people who work with Black children in a therapeutic and research based capacity. The divine Keisha Thompson recommended a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk to me when I started making the show and while reading it I was struck by a statement in the book about how childhood abuse and neglect is connected to a lot of adult mental health struggles such as addiction for example.

As a child I definitely felt like I had to repress a lot of things and not be honest about what was going on for me, not speaking things out loud protected me for a long time but of course still affected me in other ways, so I wanted to have a space where I spotlight people who are working to improve the lives of and raise awareness of the trials faced by Black children. I wish I had a space like Ebinehita Iyere‘s Milk and Honey Bees when I was young, and I think both her and Jahnine Davis are doing groundbreaking research and raising awareness of the issues that affect Black children.

Like I said, through talking about my own experiences, I don’t mean to spotlight myself or say “This is just what happened to me and only me,” and I definitely don’t welcome any pity about my past experiences, because I don’t believe anything we feel or go through hasn’t been experienced by someone else in another capacity.

What the most important thing that you’d like audiences to take away from LINK UP?

I have a lot of questions about what ‘healing’ and ‘resilience’ actually mean and what those words and journeys look like for both Black adults and children. I hope the audience can question the weight of these words/expectations with myself and my guests.

You can still book tickets for Mandla’s event ‘Trauma and Black Womxnhood‘ (though they are limited to make sure everyone can participate.) It takes place Thursday 26 November 2020, 7.45pm over Zoom. Tickets £5 full price, £3 Under-35s, £2 Concessions (plus, you can buy all four LINK UP events for just £10!)