COUPLES YOGA, Charleston, S.C. U.S.A., 2015
‘Couples Yoga’ is a performance series photographed in Charleston, South Carolina in response to police brutality against African Americans and people of color around the world, especially in the U.S.. Through the superimposition of photographs from the performance, along with sourced archival images and documents, the series provides historical context for these tragedies and seeks to reimagine an alternate scenario with a peaceful, synergistic outcome, putting an end to racial profiling and racially driven crimes at the hands of police. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites, with African American women incarcerated twice as often as white women. The history of institutionalized racism and redlining has profoundly crippled the progression of the civil rights movement. Despite the progress the U.S. has made, the country remains a significantly racially segregated nation residentially, socially, economically and in minds —both consciously and unconsciously. Couples yoga features two men, one African American man dressed in a hoodie, and a white man dressed in a police uniform. Together, the men assume symbiotic yoga positions, dispelling anger, hate and anxiety in the unifying activity which encourages teamwork, communication, empathy, and a crucial skill in moments of crisis: mindfulness. The series exists as an antidote to the fear, xenophobia and racism which fuel these assaults.
In a 2017 poll, organized by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 60% of black Americans said they or a family member have been stopped or treated unfairly by police because they were black, 61% said that where they live, police are more likely to use unnecessary force on a person who is black than on a white person in the same situation, 45% said they or a family member had been treated unfairly by the courts because they were black and 31% of poll respondents said that fear of discrimination has led them to avoid calling the police when in need. According to the NAACP.
15% of sales from this series is donated to the NAACP
Prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005. Incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.
Philando Castile, pictured slumped over in the passenger seat, died after disclosing to the officer that he had a licensed firearm (and a concealed carry permit). He was reaching for his wallet after being asked for his license and registration when the officer shot him 4 times through the window. He was inside the car with his fiancé and her 4 year old child. The background image is a still from a video recording which was broadcasted by his fiancé on facebook live.
Unarmed (with his hands raised) therapist Charles Kinsey was shot by a police officer while protecting his autistic patient who held a toy truck and had wandered into the street.
Back ground image shows Walter Scott who was pulled over for broken tail light before he was fatally shot.