To encode is also to scramble or encrypt, to keep safe from prying eyes or modes of analysis. Classifying and codifying practices have been crucial to the function of fascistic regimes and institutionalized racism. CODED features ideas and bodies that defy facile reduction or reconciliation, riffing on how performance art resists classification. The title alludes to the act of classification and Simmons’s work both plays into and against expectations around black performance. In promoting her viewers to break down the codes that define black bodies in performance and in the visual field, Simmons subtly directs the audience’s gaze towards the
social implications of critical interpretation. Such powerful work suggests that grappling with the complexities of black breath, pleasure, and movement continue to be powerful forms of political engagement in our current political landscape.