“My work explores all the intersections of my identities as a disabled, queer, indigenous woman living in the diaspora as well as a current immigrant to the United States. My work is inter-disciplinary and includes drawing, writing, storytelling and movement. My art practice is grounded within the Sāmoan concept of the vā: in-between space and/or spatial relationships.
Vā centers spatial relationships as a way to understand and move in the world. In my art practice this translates to interrogating relationships, including how we relate to ourselves, each other, and the larger world. This can be between humans but also between structures of power, such as the medical industry and archives. I am fascinated with the in-between spaces in which we spatially relate with each other and how our in-between spaces inform the way we navigate the world.
I am intrigued in the overlaps within my identities, with how indigenous ways of seeing, being and time can, and does, overlap with crip time. Finding sites of knowledge which hold both, excites me. The keyboard is one of these crossover sites, it intersects my many identities and art forms, as well as becoming a tool for freedom and creativity of expression. My work straddles the act of refusal by being interdisciplinary, is it a poem, a drawing or a choreographic score? I think it can be all those things. I always wish to expand what can constitute dance and where choreographed movement can be found. So far, I have investigated hair, technology, Samoan tatau (tattoo) and archives via my medical file.
Questions that continually inform my art practice are:
How can disability be seen as artistry?
How can values and tenets of disability and care be part of my disability aesthetic?
Where can I find overlapping sites of knowledge?
How does this work honor crip time and the vā?
What sites of choreography and movement can I find in everyday objects/movement?
Whose story am I telling? And whose is not being said?”
Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown is a NYC based interdisciplinary artist. Her practice spans drawing, writing, and movement. She is from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and is an afakasi Samoan, disabled, queer artist. In 2019 she received a Dance/NYC’s Disability Dance Artistry Award, the Laundromat Project Alumni Denniston Hill residency and was the curator for the Artists of Color Council Movement Research at Judson Church Spring season.
She has curated and presented programs for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center and Gibney Dance Center. She is a 2018 Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project and an NYFA Immigrant Artist Program alum. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center (VT), Denniston Hill (NY) and Ana Pekapeka Studio (NZ). She has exhibited her work in the US and internationally. Her non-fiction creative work has been published in The James Franco Review, Hawai‘i Review, Apogee Journal, and the forthcoming Movement Research Performance Journal issue. She is a founding member of Touch Compass, New Zealand's first mixed-ability dance company.
She attended the National Academy School of Fine Art, Studio Intensive Program, NY and received a BA in English literature and Pacific Studies, focusing on art and literature by Pasifika artists as well as post colonial theory, from Auckland University, NZ. She is currently the Assistant Director of Culture Push, a NYC based non-profit arts organization.
She is a proud sister of Ruth, Deborah, Timothy, Elsie and Noah.