Photo by Reilly Horan

can anybody help me hold this body

devynn emory’s latest work is a virtual conversation, film, public grief altar, and website archive. The artist encourages you to engage with all aspects of this work. 

Wednesday, March 31 | 7pm ET
deadbird film premiere & conversation with Okwui Okpokwasili
Sliding scale: $0-$20

The March 31 film premiere and conversation with Okpokwasili is a one-time livestream event. A link will be sent 30 minutes prior to the program.
Can’t join the live event on March 31? You can register to self-stream deadbirdRegister to self-stream here.

Thursday-Saturday, April 1-3 | 12-4pm ET 
public grief altar: can anybody help me hold this body

The location in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, will be shared after registration.

About deadbird the film
deadbird is a new film by emory. It is part-critical commentary of the medical industrial complex that’s in friction with emory’s own ceremonial end-of-life care practice, and part-grief space for emory’s body as a hospice and COVID-19 nurse, spirit medium, and artist. deadbird is an invitation to “grieve in honor of the bodies and spirits who are our teachers as they leave this plane.” This work carries the complexities of death and dying, with a mannequin (voiced by Julia Bennett, Neil Greenberg, and Calvin Stalvig) playing multiple characters, telling stories of near-death experiences, pre-death visualizations, and transitions into the afterworld. On the evening of the premiere, emory will be joined by choreographer and writer Okwui Okpokwasili in conversation. Following the premiere, the film will be available for online viewing from April 1-3.

About the public grief altar: can anybody help me hold this body
deadbird the film will offer instructions to engage the public grief altar, called can anybody help me hold this body, tended by emory and Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation) in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park from April 1-3. The altar is an invitation to the public to be in ceremony together, to strategize how to hold a person’s last wishes, and practice grieving the layered pandemics of this time. 

Instructions on how to create a grief space of your own in another city or in a safe outdoor location near you will also be provided. The deadbird website will archive the living deadbird project and a gallery of altar offerings from the public collective grief altar project. Writes emory, “let us awaken to the call to grieve as an essential act of embodiment so that we remain resilient and connected to our awakening bodies, and each others.” For more information, visit

deadbird was scheduled to premiere as a live performance in Danspace’s Spring 2020 season. In response to the pandemic, Danspace has collaborated with emory to commission a reimagined life for deadbird

deadbird and can anybody help me hold this body begins in New York, and will extend this spring to the cities of Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and Los Angeles, CA. In each location, the altar will be tended by a local BIPOC artist honoring the land they reside on.

Presented in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance

The film will include closed captions. Automated captioning will be available for the live conversation. Please email [email protected] to request CART live captioning or to plan your site visit to Prospect Park.
Please note: Face coverings must be worn to visit the public grief altar at Prospect Park.

deadbird was commissioned and is premiering at Danspace Project in 2021, and was a part of the Eureka Commissions Program by Onassis USA.