This project explores the way black women find comfort and solace in their homes. How they create worlds and universes that both invite and protect them from the surrounding communities. The piece is shot in three scenes set in X’ene’s Leimert Park home. Process: A time to watch X’ene build through the beginnings of a song and meditate on what she desires and dreams of. Performance: This section is a space where she reminds herself that even in loneliness and isolation, there is always space for the regenerative powers of seduction, pleasure and the memory of another's body. Reflection: Through a repeating harp line, X’ene reflects on gratitude for her community, home and health, which she ultimately decides is the only source of wealth she values.
X’ene Sky is a classically trained pianist, composer, singer and performance artist. X’ene’s work finds itself situated in the interstices of enslaved queer women, negro sprituals, critical fabulation and the itchy scratch your skin parts of relating intimately to others. Playing the piano since the age of four, she is constantly experimenting and interrogating the ways her instrument and voice grows and changes alongside her.
Where are you from, and if you are from here when did you move to L.A.?
I was born in Venice Beach and lived in Inglewood with my family until I was 13 when we moved to Houston, Texas. I returned to L.A. in my early 20s and consider myself a hybrid of the south and west.
What brought you to L.A., and what keeps you in L.A.?
Healing my own trauma and relationship with my father, who moved back to L.A. when I was 16, was a major pull back to this city. I had carried so much hurt and anger because of his departure and transferred that to L.A. I also felt called to L.A. as a musician because of the community of artists that this city(when you are intentional) can connect you with. What keeps me here is this community and the expansion of my own family.
What is your practice and when did you begin?
I started playing the piano when I was four, and in my teens began singing and playing the harp. I consider my practice to be one that is based on observation, rest, reflection, pain, intimacy, dating, more reflection and nostalgia. I enjoy living and exploring and organically giving myself space to create art that makes me feel heard.
What does the phrase “No money, Old money, New money” mean to you?
So much! I think of the Real Housewives of Potomac, asserting a very specific kind of Black upper-class reality that feels reminiscent of the silent hierarchies Madam CJ Walker embraced and exploited. I think of my grandmother's home in Inglewood that as a child made me feel wealthy, simply because she changed the table clothes with every season. I think of being “hoodrich” and remaining in your community even when the money starts following. I think of my grandmother's favorite fur jacket and her cleaning homes in Harlem. I think of Black trans women, the model and the mold for everything that is glamorous and luxurious. I think of Black girls like me who took the stickers off apples and stuck them on their fingers to make acrylics, only years later to see Sally Hansen emulating the same ideas.
What do you envision L.A. will be in 10 years?
A place where no person is houseless or facing housing insecurity.
What do you envision your relationship with L.A. looking like in 10 years?
Complicated. L.A. is a city that will break you down and keep you there. But I am forever grateful to the artists and family that have anchored me and showed up for me and my art. I envision L.A. being a place that I am always able to return to.
How and where do you envision yourself in 10 years?
With my baby by the coast, surrounded by community and love.