Maya Stovall employs a mix of anthropological observation and urban
intervention to create what she considers performance and ethnography.
Stovall’s current research focuses on Detroit, where she grew up. The
subjects in her video for the 2017 Biennial are her neighbors in the
McDougall-Hunt area on the city’s east side. In Liquor Store Theatre,
she dances on the sidewalks and streets outside neighborhood liquor
stores, combining elements of ballet and contemporary movement. After
each performance, she invites her audience—largely these establishments’
patrons and other passersby—to share their recollections of and
predictions for Detroit, which she records on video. The artist focused
on liquor stores in particular because they serve as hubs of both
commerce and community, with individuals selling clothing, electronic
goods, and other everyday items in their immediate vicinity. They are,
in Stovall’s words, “a backstage view of ongoing life in a neighborhood,
in spite of narratives of abandonment.”
[Maya Stovall (b. 1982), still from Liquor Store Theatre vol. 1, no. 1, 2014. Digital video, color, sound; 4 min. Courtesy the artist, Eric Johnston, and Todd Stovall. Photograph by Eric Johnston]
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