Blk Ark: The Impossible Manifestation

44 3Arts supporters
$5,275 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on September 19, 2022
    • 106% contributed

Blk Ark: The Impossible Manifestation is a multimodal project consisting of a live performance, community co-created sound score, and scholarly digital publication. Inspired by Ẹsẹ̀ntáyé, a Yoruba ceremony wherein a baby’s destiny is revealed, Blk Ark is a destiny of marronage. I wish to reflect on fugitive movements from enslavement, bondage, and journeys to a new world. In embodiment of Hip Hop’s wildstyle: we outside.

About This Project

James Baldwin was once accused of courting anarchy and replied, “...disorder was a necessary aspect of his life... He could not afford to be tamed.” Blk Ark centers the refusal to be tamed and its demand for an embrace of “disorder” for Blk liberation. As Assata Shakur stated, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” This work is as much about community power as it is about embracing my own yearnings for a life untamed.

My commitment to Hip Hop began with the Gateway City Breakers crew in 1994, as Culture Free aka Lady Wu, and since then Hip Hop has been a massive prism for my life. This work originates in Hip Hop, and my collaborators and I are driven by Blkness and anarchism. Inviting exploration and co-ordination; Hip Hop as a post-disciplinary arts practice that provides a lens for critical exploration of socio-politics and liberation grammar.

Our movement-based work will recall multi-polyrhythms of Blk migrations and marronage. We’re talking rebellion boat rocking and punk-jook joints jumping...combining, overlapping. The outside: a place-time of escapewe climb to the unseen, we swing, jump, and grace sky, and in the words of Marvin Gaye, we see what’s going on, while pausing for breath in mid-flight/fight(?) The work's repetition and cataclysm reflect its composition, amplifying the now and providing an ancestral and futuristic echolocation. Blk Ark demands of me a physical return to form and asserts that I go beyond my past ways of artmaking so that it resounds from the present to the future.  

The asphalt basketball court at the Kleo Family Center is the site of the community co-created score and film. Multiple generations are engaged via an open call for paid participation available to Kleo clients. Together we adapt games of play, use a variety of percussive instrumentation and vocal call-and-response accompanied by wearable sound sculptures designed by Hip Hop textile artist Xavier Johnson. Living on the South Side of Chicago, right across from Kleo, and being embedded in community is the bedrock of the work and serves as a primary source, inspiration, and testing ground. Working for and created with the people is paramount to me.

The resultant score is remixed and funnelled back in service of the live performance. It takes on trap and chopped and screwed production with hauntings of Blk corner, church, temple, and raw punk articulation. Personal and social markers are traversed, and architectural typologies bring the outside in, providing mediated scenographic composition and mandala-like rituals of creation. The sonic and symbolic heart of Blk Ark resides in the mixtape, the playground, the underground, and Blk radio. All of which has meant so much to my life, and are spaces that undergird so much Blk exploration.

Hip Hop fuels my analysis and articulation of society's psycho-material quagmire for Blk death and ways of journeying toward Black liberation and power. The Blk Ark digital scholarly work positions the anarcho-choreographic of Hip Hop as an intergenerational offering within the Black Radical tradition. In addition to photographic works, its innovative interactivity and presentation reflects the key thematics of Blk Ark: collaborative learning, exploration, and play. The work will consist of offerings by a veteran of the Black Panther Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and co-founder of the Black Autonomy Federation, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin. And by iconic underground protest singer/mc/poet/songwriter and all-around anarcho-agitator, Prophet aka Not4Prophet, formerly of anti-corporate political punk rock band, RICANSTRUCTION, and (alongside DJ Johnny Juice of the legendary rap squad Public Enemy) the conscious Hardcore Hip Hop group, X-Vandals.

This is a rumination on ties, binding, and community. With every step, I’m saying, “What will it take to get free?'' and “Can I see the end of the world from here?”

3AP funding for this project will help in providing the necessary time for practice and research for my collaborators and myself. This includes material and technological experimentation and development. Over the course of the next 12 months, additional funding will be sought to cover production costs of the live performance and digital publication.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $10
    Thank you shout-out on social media ($10.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $25
    Above, plus a personal thank you call ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above + access to a curated playlist of music that inspires this project ($15.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above plus an original collage print created and signed by Cat Mahari ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    A 1-hr studio visit with Cat Mahari plus an original, signed collage print ($150.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Reserved tickets to the full-length preview live performance including Q&A, plus a signed and framed collage print ($250.00 is tax deductible.)

Cat Mahari

Walder Foundation Awardee

cat mahari’s practice is built from a richly layered body history, stemming from an archive of research, physical training, and intent to manifest an intellectual, material, and informal legacy of Black liberation through documentation. By examining personal marks and socio-genealogical …

View Cat Mahari's profile
  • Update 1: SUCCESS!
    Posted on September 18, 2022


    Thank you! Every single one of you has contributed to this campaign, and made this project feasible! I know that you all deserve better rewards, gifts than I can give. What I WILL do is insure that you all receive tickets to a pivotal work in progress in-person performance of Blk Ark at Steppenwolf Theatre (in Chicago) taking place in February 2023. Additionally, everyone will receive tickets to the premeire of the community co-created sound score film next summer!!

    I am so grateful to you all for being a part of this community. I am accountable, made and make community through my work. And I love it! May we each continue to be inspired, be committed, and be supported in the work that we do.

    take care,



    Update 2: We keep on
    Posted on November 17, 2022
     Photo. Small performance space, walls and floor painted black. In center is a blue floor design based in rhythmmetrics, sacred geometry, and hop scotch. Hanging from the cieling, over the floor design are 5 knotted climbing ropes.

    cat mahari  

    Blk Ark: the impossible manifestation at CultureHub

    Hi Y'all,


    It's been a long minute since we last spoke. Some of you I have to reach out to, and quite a few of you have already received a phone call and promised in-person connection. I will be in touch with everyone! Being part of this community is an awesome fact.

    I'm currently in NYC preparing for a work-in-progress sharing at CultureHub. I have two wonderful collaborators with me: Jarius "ManofGod" King, legendary bboy, dj, Black cultural arts educator; and Liz "Kereberus" Seonwoo, krumper, new media artist, and recipient of 3Arts Make a Wave Artist Award.



    Update 3: Hi !
    Posted on February 24, 2023
     two black people, wearing dark blue coveralls, are swinging from ropes, over an interactive floor design,  done with a variety of bright colored chalk, and blue painters tape


    Hi all,

    It's been a minute. And it's been a time.

    Thank you to everyone that I have seen in person! It was so dope seeing y'all. The past 3 to 4 months Blk Ark as a research practice has been on 10! Y'all are instrumental in that happening. Ase o

    I have big news!!!

    After 18 months of research Blk Ark is ready for development and then production!

    I just wanna give a big shout out to all these spaces of support that have opened their doors. Wanna' let you all in on where it's been.

    Continued thank you's to

    See Chicago Dance (Chicago)

    Pact Zollverein (Germany)

    CultureHub (NYC)

    MCA Chicago (Chicago)

    Elastic Arts (Chicago)

    Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago)

    Bemis Contemporary (Omaha)

    This next phase is exciting. I'm currently in Omaha at Bemis working on something very very special. That's all I will. It's very very special and I'm sooo into it. It's a Blk Ark process, learning, practice that is warmly received.

    Okay ! I'm asking for introductions to presenters, venues, galleries, residencies, and partnerships.

    I'm applying during the open call for Speculative and Just Futurities - that's a residency coming to Indianapolis. I've been working on a film shown during some sharings of the research. The goal is to be in development and production with it by mid-summer to autumn (July - Sept). Which gives a solid window to work within.

    If y'all know of any organizations, theatres, galleries, that may be a good fit for partnership pass it on.


    take care, cat

    Update 4: Work in Progress showing !
    Posted on October 09, 2023
     An ethnically diverse group of passengers are sitting on a bus, with their body partially turned around and looking at a young Black man, sitting down in the middle of the last row of seats. Everyone in the scene is wearing denim and "everyday" clothes.


    Hello all!!!

    It's been a time. I do hope those y'all have been either well or being cared for. I have some news to share that I am truly thankful for.

    Next week, Oct 18th at 6pm at 21c Hotel in Chicago, I will be showing a work in progress film centered on my project blk ark: the impossible manifestation. This will be a lovely time. We'll make sure to start right on time, so please arrive early! And I hope to see you all there.

    About the film: The impossible manifestation is a multi-modal performance-based work consisting of live performance, live scored film, and architectural installation exploring Black anarchist practices through Hip Hop spillage.  We call forth play as open-ended exploration, co-ordination and voluntary collaboration in relating. With this we map a way forward, maybe touch a new world.

    Film Title: "blk ark"
    Filmmaker: Cat Mahari
    Producer: Surinder Martignetti

    In-person for the first time, join us at the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago for Screendance Club: a radically casual watch-party and discussion of short dance films. Different from a typical talk-back, Screendance Club aims to create an environment of open conversation and exploration--with artists, filmmakers, and viewers on an equal footing. SCD writers curate and facilitate conversations on viewing and interpreting dance on screen.

    ASL will be provided for this event. If you need a different accessible accommodation to enjoy this program, or if you have any questions about accommodations, please email or call (312) 846-6357.


    This film piece was partly conceived and produced through SCD’s Dance for Camera Residency Programin 2022.  Cat was part of the Fall cohort of participants.



    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Samuel Lewis

    • Elena Kramda

    • Carole McCurdy

    • kiku hibino

    • Drew Bolton

    • Regina Martinez

    • Mario Holloway

    • Bill Johnson

    • Patrick Murray

    • Bill Johnson

    • Sara Slawnik

    • Amanda Maraist

    • Nora Sharp

    • Meida McNeal

    • Asad Jafri

    • Shinique Smith

    • kimeco roberson

    • Camry Ivory

    • Vershawn Sanders-Ward

    • Dorian Sylvain

    • Karen Lisondra

    • Enki Andrews

    • Jessica Williams

    • Paige Brown

    • Mario LaMothe

    • Yukiko Koizumi

    • Elizabeth Griffin

    • Gary Abbott

    • Ryan Tenney

    • Shinique Smith

    • Leone Reeves

    • Andrew Snyder

    • James Scruggs

    • Abra Johnson

    • Gary Abbott


    • Ravi Kudesia

    • Amir George

    • Rose Parisi

    • Constance Steinkamp

    • Stephen Gazaway

    • Stephanie Pacheco

    • January Johnson

    • Anonymous Supporter

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council