Taja Lindley's "The Bag Lady Manifesta" 

Taja Lindley knows a thing or two about trash bags. Her installations and performances as "The Bag Lady" require boxes of them.

"And not all trash bags are created equal, I'll tell you that," the visual and performing artist says. She's attracted to a particular store brand because of the shininess and opacity. And she recycles, shipping her boxes full of bags from town to town as she tours "The Bag Lady Manifesta," a one-woman show, art installation, and participatory performance ritual. "The bags people touched in Tulsa are the same bags people touched in New York and will be the same bags people touch in Memphis," she says, connecting the medium to a message about the disposability of black lives in America.

click to enlarge werecbox_baglady2.jpg

"When we have debates, people double down on their judgments and assumptions," Lindley says, trying to define The Bag Lady's role at the nexus of performance and activism. She wants to explore personal choices and responsibility and create openings for dialogue, she says of work that can reflect on immigration policy and the social safety net.

"We can talk about mass incarceration," Lindley says, acknowledging that the work can be difficult to describe. "So many dots we can connect ... It's definitely an experience." Lindley says it's an experience that involves dance, text, projection, elements of burlesque, and, as previously mentioned, trash bags. Lots and lots of trash bags. So many trash bags.

Making healing art from a medium that's not Earth-friendly comes with a lot of responsibility. "Oh my God, I need storage," Lindley says.

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