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About this commission
The HawtPlates (a performance trio formed by family members Justin Hicks, Kenita Miller-Hicks, and Jade Hicks) remix excerpts from their song cycle House or Home: 690 Wishes in a DIY recording session. Currently, the trio is sheltering in place in two locations across the country, with Justin and Kenita in the Bronx and Jade in Indianapolis. While separated, the family members join each other online to rework and find new meaning in their songs as a meditative offering to audiences in response to the conditions we’re all living through—from the 7 pm cheers for essential workers that can be heard across New York City to the unexpected intimacy that can be found in digital communication.
Originally created by the HawtPlates with Charlotte Brathwaite, House or Home: 690 Wishes first developed out of Justin’s repeated encounters in dream with the image of a house. Each time he dreamed of the house, it took on different characteristics, sometimes presenting as a sleek oceanside home, sometimes as a house filled with wild animals. These dreams led the group to the themes of shifting ownership and the American dream questioned by the song cycle in its fragmented libretto of murmurs, calls, shouts, and whispers. Further inspired by Toni Morrison’s novel Home and the experimental writings of French author Georges Perec, House or Home’s subtly spoken and racialized utterances arise out of a community in flux as well as layered conversations around notions of gentrification and progress. In what might seem like a playlist set to shuffle, this digital performance commissioned by The Shed mixes the banal and familiar with the disturbingly alien as the music reveals how social distance has already been shaping urban communities long before this moment.
In summer 2019, the HawtPlates’ Justin Hicks and Kenita Miller-Hicks performed in The Shed’s commissioned production, Maze, co-directed by street dance pioneer Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray and Kaneza Schaal, featuring dancers from the D.R.E.A.M. Ring and the FlexNYC program.