Gabrielle Portrait.




Gabrielle Civil is a black feminist performance artist, originally from Detroit, MI.

"The aim of my work is to open up space."

Gabrielle Civil has premiered over 40 original solo and collaborative performance works around the world. Recent works include “…hewn & forged….” at the Salt Lake City Performance Art Festival (2016); “_______ is the thing with feathers” at “Call & Response: Experiments in Joy” (2014); “Say My Name” (an action for 270 abducted Nigerian girls)” (2014); and “Fugue (Da, Montréal),” at the Hemispheric Institute Encuentro (2014). Her writing has appeared in Small Axe, Obsidian, Asterix, Rain Taxi, and other publications. Her performance memoir, Swallow the Fish was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms Press in 2017 and her second book Experiments in Joy was released in February 2019. She currently teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and the BFA program in Critical Studies courses at the California Institute of the Arts.

Gabrielle Civil
Fugue (Da, Montréal), 2014
Filmed performance with sound (video)
Runtime: 13:13 min.
Courtesy of the Artist, Victor Bautista, & The Hemispheric Institute

Fugue (Da, Montréal) is a ritual meditation on emigration, cultural displacement, and the stock Haitian grandmother / foremother (the one left behind / the one to be recovered). Using dirt, video loops, pockets of coffee, and “cut-ups” from Dany Laferrière, this work confronts and transforms clichés of familial loss, impossible memory, and guilt.