Love is a verb. Superlove is a movement.

We followed a line of women (and a few scattered men) into the Superdome early Friday morning. After being thoroughly searched and promising never to turn on our video camera, we were allowed admittance. The entrance was decorated with a selection of feminist art pieces such as poster board sized pages of a graphic novel entitled, “Oh fuck, I’m a Victim.� In it, artist Vicki Rabinowicz depicts a woman who is followed, kidnapped, and raped. In one frame, she is drawn small enough to fit in her attacker’s hand as he masturbates onto her entire body then flushes her down the toilet. At the end of the strip we discover that the victim is the artist and that she drew this on her 28th birthday, tens years after the attack. Not all of the pieces were as jarring though. To the left lay a ball of bras (think office ball of rubber bands) roughly five feet tall. The only thing holding this work together seemed to be the very godforsaken wired hooks of each boulder holder. Along the back wall was a timeline of shirts, bags, posters, and other promo items representing performances from around the world. Near that was an altar with lit candles to honor those who fell to final rest when Katrina hit.
Past the welcoming gallery inside is where we all met. We were an international collection of women and girls. Represented in the audience and on stage were activists from Bosnia, Kenya, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iceland, Afghanistan, France, Guatemala, The Philippines, Iraq, and displaced Americans from New Orleans.
Ball O Bras

The backdrop of the stage was the sparkling pink official logo of V to 10th. Behind this massive { } draped a billowing mauve cloth and a black screen peppered with lights to stimulate stars. Next to the main stage on the right was The Red Tent. This served as an open (shoeless) space for storytelling and sanctuary. Although all events were free, the tent had a sign up list and it was at capacity for every 80 minute time slot.
The opening ceremony was completely successful in its mass cleansing of the space and the attendees of V to the 10th. We were now, in fact, sitting in the Superlove. Joan Roshi, a zen priest in her 60s, initiated a call and response for the following holy vow:
“For as long as space exists and the world abides, may I too remain to dispel the suffering of others.� x3
It may sound a bit hippy dippy, but it was powerful and became even more so when she reminded us that it was our responsibility to hold each other to this promise. “I might be a Buddhist priest,� she said, “but I know when my government can do a lot better.� Word.
Immediately afterwards came a beautiful song with high-pitched sounds like weeping. Only after the intro did I recognize it as a cover and remix of Marley’s “No woman No cry.� Already a favorite, the version this woman sang stung deeper than when I’d ever heard it before. I did not catch her name but I was totally permeated by her presence.
A few more local activists came out and said a word or two. Then the Mahalia Jackson all girl’s choir preformed. Since so many schools in NOLA do not have decent music programs (if they have one at all), this choir was a collection of girls who were neighbors, friends and church mates. They all swayed together and they were so awesome, I almost wished public displays of faith like this made me weak in the knees shouting and jumping like others. An older woman on stage did things with a tambourine that I didn’t even know were possible.
Then came Eve. After a few moments of pumping us up with rah rah vagina VAGINA, she got down to the overall mission of Superlove. She began by reminding us that in our daily interactions we often fail to listen to the full stories of individuals. We avoid this to bypass the yucky feelings of guilt and responsibility that arise when we come in contact with injustices. “We need to take a deep breath this weekend and listen to everyone’s stories,� she pleaded. She encouraged us to see each panel, performance, dance, and song as an offering that we could take or leave. To resist the urge to pick apart something we did not, or could not, relate to and just let Superlove be.
In subsequent posts, we will be sharing details of the parts that we took home with us.
(SMU in NOLA are students Jessica Andrewartha, Meg Bell, and Allie Thompson.)

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