Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Rachel N. Hastings
Critical Performance Ethnography, Rize and the Battle to Articulate Race
The montage of personal and social identities displayed in the documentary Rize indicate that there are multiple historical, psychological, and performative responses to racialized conditions. This essay analyzes how the body is used as an instrument of resistance against a society that operates within and among racial symbol systems. Drawing upon critical ethnography and race philosophies, this essay suggests David LaChapelle’s examination of Krump dancers is a process of performative decolonization. To begin, Rize is articulated as a project representative of critical performance ethnography. Next, a discussion of the genesis of race as a political instrument of oppression is offered. In conclusion, an analysis of the dialectal tension between the spiritual and material realms within the documentary Rize is discussed.