CALIFIA AND THE TRESPASSERS is a collaboration between Quintan Ana Wikswo (concept, libretto, video projection, poems), composer Andrea Clearfield (music), and choreographer Manfred Fischbeck (movement), featuring performances by Amber Benson (voice), Gloria Justen (violin), and Stephen Kent (didgeridoo), and the dancers of GroupMotion Dance Theater. CALIFIA was created through the support of Creative Capital, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Montalvo Arts Center. It premiered in Philadelphia in 2012 in the Pew Festival, and continued in a performance series throughout 2013. In 2014, it won honors from the International Association of Women in Music (IAWM) and is currently touring internationally in their performance series.
CALIFIA AND THE TRESPASSERS was filmed and created in the California killing fields of Santa Clara County, at the murder site of the Coastal Redwoods, the Ohlone people, and Kathy Bilek, a teenage birdwatcher killed in a serial hate crime in 1971. Since 1472, millions of Native tribes, trees, and teenage girls have come to inhabit California’s legacy of ecological, racist, and misogynistic violence orchestrated by wave upon wave of pioneer ideologues who have struck disproportionately at women and people of color.
My earliest memory is of standing inside a burned-out Sequoia tree, looking at the sky through a distant opening at its top: a vision of the ancient ecologies, mythic cosmologies, and first inhabitants that are eternally linked in my mind to California.
My later memories as a small girl in Santa Clara County are of terrifying warnings about sexual and racial violence as the utopian dreams of the 1960s became the murderous nightmares of Charles Manson and white male serial killers who hunted women as prey across the glorious California landscape…vigilante violence that recalled the 1860s lynch mobs and race riots against the Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Mexicans, and other non-European Californians.
Today, Silicon Valley and the Tech boom perpetuate this heritage, as they increase the rate of ecological destruction and create a dystopian world in which women and people of color are refused employment opportunities, ensuring that white men of European descent remain the kings and despots of California.
CALIFIA and the TRESPASSERS
by Quintan Ana Wikswo
These the gleanings of body from body, stalk and stem, a soft pocket of eagle and owl, claws in the husk of bark and below it my thorax, holding a world with my curl of tongue, with my hand, with all my feathers.
These trees, these – these the first trees. Three spiders, suspended. A nest of legs, delicate. Their web the skin of this forest, counting our heartbeats in the leaves. A creed. A common skein of skin, a thousand eyes, arachnid, and from within this viscera the spiders whisper to me: we glimpse between the branches. We go to what grows.
I glimpse what glows. The glitter of gold, of bone. Betrayal. A faun whose fur is wet with weeping. I go between the branches. Leave me here.
The trespassers say to me: this here is dark. And this, here, is light. But I say to them: no. no. Here, we see. This – here – is further. And this, here, is deeper.
Montalvo Arts Center