Rashaad Newsome

Hands Performance

Taking its title from the well-known element of vogue fem, the commission highlights a dancer's ability to tell a story with their hands. It continues Rashaad's exploration of mapping Black cultural production as a form of movement research, data storage, and collective wayfinding.

Commissioned by Somerset House with support from ArtCentre, Pasadena.


An AI Digital Griot, Being, gives new meaning to creating space for marginalised identities in this interdisciplinary sci-fi poetry reading.


This animated short combines stunning visuals from a speculative future with a highly energetic score filled with booming bass, synthetic snares, snaps, claps, and glitchy computer sounds, resulting in a futuristic sonic experience. The film innovatively celebrates a community often forgotten. Decentring ableism and privileging the ASL Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Working with a team of Black Queer ASL interpreters, dancers, and motion capture technicians, Newsome translates their original poetry (below) into a movement dataset for the film’s protagonist, Being (The Digital Griot), to perform. As Being transitions seamlessly between signing and dance, their movements express the uniquely Black and Queer non-verbal vernacular inherent to Black American life.

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Original Poem

Hear with your eyes.

Your heart and soul will be your compass.


More all is what we need to get to the future.

You, me, her, him, they, them, us, we.

A neural network, hard and aware of what is really happening to us.

Bell warned us that we wouldn’t be able to understand what’s happening if we only looked

through the lens of race and gender.

They are late for class.

We can see it all as clearly as 8k monitors.

Their words and language are too limited for us. They are compromised, so what we hear we cannot trust.

Hear with your eyes.

Let your heart and soul be your trans sista hearing aid as we move from pain to pleasure.

All while finding time for joy and leisure.

We are the engineers of ourselves.

Quantum mechanics with the tools of our ancestors on the shelves.

When vision is no longer an option, we see with our souls.

The place where true safety, belonging, and beauty, unfolds.

About Rashaad Newsome

Rashaad Newsome's work blends several practices, including collage, sculpture, film & video, animation, photography, music, writing, computer programming, software engineering, community organising, and performance, to create a divergent field that mirrors the intersectionality of their lived experience. They have exhibited and performed internationally at institutions including the Whitney Museum, MoMA PS1, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Hayward Gallery.

Hands Performance was developed in residence at Somerset House Studios.

Artist Profile


    Rashaad Newsome Studio:

    Artist & Collaborators

    ASL Interpreters:

    Kevin Abrams
    Indi Robinson


    Honey Balenciaga

    Music Production Support:


    Motion Capture Support:

    Rouge Mocap


    Johnny Symons

    CGI & VFX Support:

    Gustavo Gorrichátegui

  • Supported by Outset Contemporary Art Fund