Sibyl Kempson, "12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens," Spring Equinox, March 20, 2016, at the Whitney Museum of American Art (photo © Paula Court)

Sibyl Kempson, from the series 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens, “Spring Equinox,” March 20, 2016, at the Whitney Museum of American Art (photo © Paula Court)

This statement sounds crazy in 2017, but it’s true: The darkest day of the year is yet to come. That will be Thursday, December 21, the winter solstice, which brings the year’s longest night and shortest day. It’s a powerful moment in any number of religious and spiritual traditions — it may be the moment of truest, deepest blackness, but it also marks the beginning of the turn back to the sun. White-night and fire-filled holidays abound, community is celebrated, faces and intentions are turned willfully toward the light. It’s a time for evocative contrasts and dynamic, life-affirming gatherings.

At the Whitney Museum, Sibyl Kempson will present the eighth “Shout” in her cycle of iterative equinox and solstice performances, 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens; this one titled, appropriately, “Winter Solstice.” The all-day performance, per the official description, is a celebratory and contemplative engagement with the shifting dynamics of darkness and light: “As the day unfolds, the theater gradually transitions into four distinct scenic landscapes. Each encourages the viewer to contemplate the interplay between internal and external worlds.” A bell will ring at both the precise astronomical solstice (11:28 am) and again at sunset (4:32 pm), marked by a ceremony.

In dark times, it’s compelling — not to say illuminating — to be reminded that, whether we know it yet or not, we are being turned back toward the light.

When: Thursday, December 21, 10:30am–6pm
Where: Whitney Museum, third floor, Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater (99 Gansevoort Street, Manhattan)

More info here.

Laila Pedro is a writer and scholar based in New York. She holds a PhD in French from the Graduate Center, CUNY, and is currently at work on a book tracing artistic connections between Cuba, France, and...