Martine Syms is a conceptual entrepreneur based in Los Angeles who uses publishing, video, and performance to look at the making and reception of meaning in contemporary America. Misdirected Kiss is a performative lecture that tells a story about language, movement, and performance as observed in black female entertainers. Inspired by the curriculum of Maxine Powell, director of the in-house finishing school at Motown Records in the 1960s who thought that “class and style and refinement” would help her race become outstanding, this performance is a visual essay that traces how we construct and stage ourselves for the world. As artist Gordon Hall once said, "Politics is something you do with your body."
The title Misdirected Kiss is drawn from a set of silent films in which white men accidentally kiss their black maids instead of their white lovers. This illicit contact typically takes place in between public and private space where vision is obscured. Syms uses this as a starting point to think through the ways that everybody wants to be a black woman, but nobody wants to be a black woman. Syms states, “I'm thinking about Kim Kardashian, LaVerne Cox, Michelle Obama, and Beyoncé. But also myself, my best friend, my sister, my mother, my aunty, and my grandma."
Watch Martine Sym's The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto on KCET