Uh, bitch – can I hold the mic? – Don’t – Please can I hold the mic? – You can’t – I would like to say that, okay, I would like to say that…
I can’t be a singular expression of myself, there’s too many parts, too many spaces, too many manifestations, too many lines, too many curves, too many troubles, too many journeys, too many mountains, too many rivers, so many
Solange, “Can I Hold the Mic (Interlude)”
“I would prefer not to,” (Melville, 1853) muttered Herman Melville’s Bartleby in Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street. “I would prefer not to”. How simple, how vanilla, how deceitfully and disarmingly polite this metaphysical act of defiance staged and repeated without the utterance of the word no? Such is Melville’s literary project of equivocal affective sites of powerful powerlessness; dwelling on affective gaps and illegibility, dysphoric feelings and other sites of emotional negativity- behold the beauty which moves between the shadows and the dark -as an exploration of similarly ambivalent conditions and moments of suspended agency. “Can I hold the mic? – Don’t – Please can I hold the mic? – You can’t – I would like to say that, okay, I would like to say that…” a disruption in the form of a Cunty cackle; nayi le walk, here enters Chaos; Bartleby’s equally gatvol auntie van daai kant; fascinator and animal print two piece to boot. Angel-Ho’s theatrical and metaphysical defiance, however, does not come all wrapped up in a neat little bow of politeness; rather, it shrieks forth in chaotic ecstasy and fabulations, not one bit bothered by you and what you may think; “bitch I’m a star bring me diamond caviar”(Angel-Ho).
In preparing for this piece, Angel-Ho and I met virtually via video call for our auntie lunch time tea kiki (sans tea). Her unwavering commitment to her artistry was our invisible third companion as we spoke about her new music video, the song (produced by RiverMoon), mental health, champagne taste on Drink o’ Pop pockets and a 7-colours-Sunday-serving full of other things. At first hello; silk cascading from her hat framing her face, glamourous make-up dancing upon her eyelids, and the veil that separates performance from real life lifted; I was transported back to the world she began to build for us with her music video Pose, and continues to so vividly flesh out in Chaos. The video, both edited and with special effects by Angel herself and cinematography by Jabu Nadia Newman and Haneem Christian; is in fact part of a larger project by Adult Swim, where they will be releasing songs by 20 of their other artists. From first entry into its visual tapestry, it is clear that Angel-Ho’s expression is irrevocably disinterested in an attempt to be understood, to be placed in unimaginative categories and stifling boxes; in this house boxes are for burning as expressed by the artist “the box creates a slow timeline in art and culture” (Angel-Ho).
“I didn’t want to be polite about who I was anymore, and I made the song at a particularly low point in my mental health” Angel-Ho expresses during our conversation. Like Melville’s short story, I conceive of Chaos as a reflexive Bartlebyan project of equivocal affective sites of powerful powerlessness that, when recuperated and expanded outside of the scope of experience hold the potential to be transformative, and are imbued with a generative potential to articulate new modes of self-expression. Mental health; not to mention all its carry on-luggage, can be a murky, dazzling and confusing space to navigate. My own personal struggles with anxiety and depression have often left me feeling stranded, marooned from myself. Sometimes, however, the abyss does not just stare back, but brews magic and play to be seized from within the “conflagration of hasty voices—loud, urgent, all speaking at once,” (Morrison). The music video, occupies the space of daydreams- “things I imagined, I saw things I imagined” -that of the post-internet, anime and sci-fi variety. It articulates itself in a space of its own fabulation, beyond the reaches of the “known” world. An outside the sentence space of vibrating colours and chaos; a living and breathing space of ambivalence.
“With the visual I really wanted to like create different landscapes and different kinds of sets… video sets, with graphics I would find on the internet or that I would render myself. And then with the song, the song is a whole other story,” expressed the artist while speaking about her creation. The characters/personas that inhabit the anime-like, post-internet collaged world of Chaos read like superheroes; powerful postures, struts and costuming all heightening this affect. We spoke about the nun character in particular, as it had made me chuckle, resurrecting a memory from a time long gone where as I was leaving Crew in Cape Town with my loves, Sister Act: the Constantia Chronicles decided to yell to us how Crew loves Black people and we should bring more next time (which needless to say there wouldn’t be). Angel-Ho proceeded to reveal to me how the nun character first came into fruition in Matric during the 40 days tradition, not surprising as the effortless embodiment of the distinct characters clearly illuminates the history and thought that went into their creation.
Chaos, like Queer Consciousness is stepping out of the boundaries of what we know and into the creative world of imagining. It is Angel-Ho’s Cunty Wonderland that speaks of those ordinary and hurricane moments of human ambivalence, creativity and life. It is a turn to the small stories that uncover the rhythms, tastes, and visions of the human textures, contradictions, and interiorities of her life. Chaos is fragmented, uncontained, and playful; a dizzy and dizzying twirl. It is “golden boob Aries princess clap you with my hooves. Tongue atomic twista, those girls can’t take no ques. While I speak robotic like busting up a fuse. Run me dis money so while you’re sitting in church pews” (Angel-Ho).
Cinemagraphers: Haneem Christian & Jabu Nadia Newman
Assistant: Waseem Noordien