The Amazon Project started in 2010 to document and pay tribute to nearly four decades of dynamic arts-activism that finds its focal point each year at Michfest. The experiment in intentional community, that is the festival, began in 1976 the same year Maxine Feldman gave birth to “Amazon” song. She brought her new baby to the first gathering and released her to the community. From that year on, “Amazon” has grounded the Opening Celebration of festival, galvanizing travelers to harness power that the world seeks to crush, and as such has become the theme song. From the beginning, as womyn and girls came together around the world to live in a female constructed, arts-centered town, the organizing structures and artistic expression were grounded in a radical lesbian feminist ethos, weaving the politics and joys of art, culture, and life into a fabric for womyn’s survival. Nonetheless, the festival, like the larger movement of liberation of which it was a part, had to grapple with its homogeneity. As the faces, voices, and artistic genres changed on the festival stage, “Amazon” changed, bringing the song into the present day. Mapping the musical transformations of “Amazon,” and the myriad women who have fired up, claimed, and transmitted her power, shows the ways the question of who belongs in the community changes. The bodies and voices on stage have signaled those shifts to the wider community—shifts that have not been easy.
Judith Casselberry, Executive Producer, sees the Amazon Project as a living archive that documents this aspect of our herstory and links it to our ever-evolving present-future. Itis a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-genre documentary venture with three main components:
- Amazon Thirty-Five (CD), Toshi Reagon, Producer [link to CD page]
- Photography by Desdemona “Bunty” Burgin [link to photo page]
- Documentary film (J. Bob Alotta, Director). We are now in production
We need to include your voices, feelings and thoughts. Did you video your sisters and yourselves during or after “Amazon Women Rise” at Michfest? Please join the project by uploading your “Amazon” moments (from 2014 or any other year).
Amazon stays on the move!
Since 2011, Judith Casselberry has been presenting this multi-media narrative of Michfest—guided by a talk that placed the festival in its political and historical contexts—in public academic forums, including Harvard University, Department of Music, Graduate Music Forum; The 19th Annual Black Women's Conference, "Voices of Resistance: Black Women and the Power of Song," University of Kentucky Lexington; "Testify, Witness and Act: Black Women’s Resistance" Conference on Black Women’s History, Bowdoin College; and Invited Speaker, New York University Department of Music.
Amazon at One Billion Rising in Koln (2014)
Amazon in the Bay Area!