Originally created by Tina Milevojevic for Dah Teatar's The Helen Keller Case, The Black Lady (Crna Dama, in Serbian) is a shape-shifter who dances between the realms of the living and the dead. In the fall of 1998, Kathy Randels took over the role and toured the piece with Dah through the following spring. When NATO began bombing Serbia and Kosovo in March 1999, Randels carried The Black Lady's costumes and props home to the U.S. and used the character to address issues of social and governmental injustice. In protest actions performed in front of the White House in Washington, DC and the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, Randels performed The Hellen Keller Case alone, leaving spaces of emptiness where the other actors' parts would have been.
In Spaces in Between, The Black Lady leads an audience through the rooms of a house flooded and destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The home at 6860 General Diaz became the pastorium of Lakeview Baptist Church in 1966 when Pastor James Richard Randels moved his family into the house, and his daughter Kathy spent her first 18 years there. In an extended monologue, The Black Lady addresses the audience directly and relates an account of events that took place in each room during Kathy's upbringing.
Spaces in Between was originally created for Lakeviews: A Sunset Bus Tour in 2007. With five performances and art installations staged at several different locations, Lakeviews was created collaboratively by artists, university students and community members to help rejuvenate the Lakeview neighborhood, and was part of a larger project entitled HOME, New Orleans?, a community-based, arts-focused network that brought together diverse constituencies to create positive change in post-Katrina New Orleans. In affiliation with The Vestiges Project and Dillard, New York, Tulane and Xavier Universities, The Home, New Orleans? network advocated merging art-making, education, and community involvement to produce more powerful opportunities for individuals, neighborhoods, and the city as a whole.
In 2008, taping began for a film version of Spaces in Between. Directed and shot by Francis James, with additional camera work and initial editing by Stephen Tyler, the piece was completed in 2012 by Bruce France. The still photos of the performance that appear in the film were taken by ArtSpot's longtime photographer, Libby Nevinger; the older family photos come from albums that survived the flood. The song that is sung throughout was composed by Tina Milivojevic for The Helen Keller Case. The installation was designed by Kathy Randels and Takako Uemura and assisted by William Bowling and Rachel Carrico, with sound and lighting design by Sean LaRocca.