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Chicago Performs | cat mahari, blk ark: the impossible manifestation

September 28, 20247:30 pm

September 29, 20242:00 pm

CART captioning available Sun, Sep 29

About the Performance

cat mahari’s blk ark: the impossible manifestation is an interactive performance and installation, with live, semi-improvisational sound, hip-hop and house dance, and film. By exploring improvisational and Black cultural strategies of play, learned from joanin’ and the soul clap, mahari presents modes of survival and liberation, revealing questions about what it will take to find freedom and map the road ahead for our collective futures.

mahari’s participatory installation work is on view during museum hours, Thursday–Sunday, September 26–29, in the Commons.

While the audience is encouraged to interact with the installation before or after attending the performance, the installation and performances may be experienced individually, offering two modes of engaging the ideas central to the project.

Access Information

English CART captioning is available for the performance on Sunday, September 29.

About the Artist

cat mahari‘s practice is built from a richly layered body history, stemming from an archive of research, physical training, and intent to manifest an intellectual, material, and informal legacy of Black liberation through documentation. By examining personal marks and socio-genealogical maps, she explores inner and outer environments. She is a 2023 MAP Fund microgrant recipient, and a 2022 Foundation for the Arts Emergency grantee for blk ark: the impossible manifestation. In 2021, she was named the City of Chicago Esteemed Artist Awardee in Dance and received a 2021 3Arts Award in dance.

Her current and upcoming works include the film Sugar in the Raw, a surrealist-inspired exploration of Black intimacy, trust, and touch via Chicago house dance and stepping; the Afro Sci-fi Krump film Imprints & Traces; her genre-defying work the mixtape series: violent/break, volumes i and ii, which has received national and international development support at Brink Festival (London), High Concept Labs (Chicago), and Imir Scene Kunst (Norway); and the multidisciplinary performance BAM!, for which she received a CSF Generative Performing Artist Fellowship. BAM! is an immersive ensemble work, focusing on Blackness, racial identity politics in the US, and violence.

mahari is a culture bearer of hip-hop and house, having participated, judged, and held community initiatives and events. mahari is a former member of the Krump family Gool and holds a BFA in dance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, as well as an MA in performance, practice, and research from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London.


mahari’s project has been developed with the support of the New Works Initiative Chicago Commission Program, which fosters the artistic and professional growth of Chicago artists, providing consistent and comprehensive support for their development. The commission also connects their work with the national and international performance network.

Chicago Performs is supported by the New Works Initiative, which puts the creative process at the heart of the MCA’s relationship with Chicago by supporting the development of new performances and creative projects. Lead support for the New Works Initiative is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.