The Sis Uprising: A Critical Kiki

A conceptual Black spectacle about the protests, COVID-19, and legacies of race, gender and sexuality


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Performance
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women, School of Arts & Sciences


Ricardo A. Bracho


Arien Wilkerson, with David Norori, John Dionisio, Nicholas Serrambana, Kevin Hernández Rosa, domsentfrommars, and Jian White


Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public






On the web

Slought and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce The Sis Uprising: A Critical Kiki, an online event on Thursday, October 8, 2020 from 5-7pm. The event is free and open to the public and will be broadcast live on YouTube.

In this program, Arien Wilkerson and their collaborators will present new and previous work to playwright Ricardo A. Bracho's creative writing workshop at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the greater Philadelphia community. The program will feature excerpts from previous performances, as well as the premiere of The Sis Uprising, a conceptual Black spectacle on COVID-19, the protests, and the interwoven legacies of race, gender, sexuality and Black queer artistic insurgency. As Wilkerson writes in their "A sissifesto," featured below, "The sis uprising is a visual aggregate, collective showing of the disconnection between realities and moments, present presences and parallel futures. I'm interested in adding to the narrative of what more do we do or what less do we do after all is said and done. The character is time. Not displaying time nor depicting time but abstractedly wearing time as skin. Whose skin is time in?"

Also featured will be the video Shark, a work commissioned prior to the onset of COVID-19 for a staged reading of Bracho's play Circa. Shark features Wilkerson and other Black men and femmes in solo, duo and trio shots interacting with each other, natural and built environments, the photographic eye and the embellishment of fabric. Shark is about the collective sojourn of Black peoples in the Americas but refuses to merely portray loss, trauma and survivance. As Bracho and Wilkerson describe the project, "Even as cop cars burn, gentrification removes us and remakes our cities for settlers, plagues hit us the hardest, Black people retain the right to touch and be touched, to cap on each other and make each other laugh, to meet each other's eyes; to feel and look beautiful beyond our devalued status and the impositions placed on us by racial capitalism."

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A sissifesto (2020)

Arien Wilkerson with Ricardo A. Bracho

The text will be released on this page after the event.

Access Livestream


Arien Wilkerson is a Philadelphia-based gender fluid black queer choreographer, performer and installation artist. They are the founder of Tnmot Aztro, a collaborative multidisciplinary company. Wilkerson has received awards from the Greater New Haven Arts Council and the Connecticut office of the arts (2018, 2019), the New England Dance Fund (2017, 2018), the Amistad Center for Art and Culture (2017), the NEA Big Read (2018), the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund (2018), and the NEFA Rebecca Blunk Fund (2018).

David Norori is a Philadelphia-based artist and the director and DP of the works by Wilkerson featured in this program. He received his BFA from the Hartford Art School. He is currently working at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Norori has interned for We Should Do It All, the photographer Ryan McGinley, and was the art director for the Scope of Work (SOW), and its Movement for Black Lives "Goods" Campaign, about the ways Black people create value for themselves outside of the white corporate gaze

Ricardo A. Bracho is a writer, editor and teacher who has worked in community and university, theater and video/film, politics and aesthetics for the past twenty-nine years. He is also the Sachs Artist in Residence at the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women at the University of Pennsylvania. His award-winning plays, which include The Sweetest Hangover, Sissy, Puto, and Mexican Psychotic, which have been produced in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, as well as workshopped and staged nationwide. His focus in community has been on social justice, public health, and the arts with queer and trans youth of color, Latina/o/x high risk populations, queer men of color, and incarcerated men.