AGAINST CURATION OR LOSING YOUR GRIP
Writing Bodies Text Action Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts 2015
that Thing where i don't exhaust my breath or my time on this planet critiquing the system that might hold me in a fixed place, critiquing it, making language about it, building it up making it realer and realer even as i'm trying to tear it down, show that it's all fucked up. there are manifold ways to tear this system up, to bring it down, and hashing out the ways it's no good is rarely one of them. this tends to keep us mired in the system itself––and critique in this form is one of the system's primary instruments. this is worth noting. read audre lorde's "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House." good to think this in an art literature music popular culture context as well. bringing those of us who have been are constantly denied into museums into commerce into the canon is not revolution. it's just being validated by the same system that a minute before excluded us and said that it was logical that we were the excluded ones. logic is one of the system's primary tools too.
(and in case you're a human who isn't consistently denied, don't let the system fool you into thinking that you're somehow safe or at an advantage or against the us that is. we are––in ways that are unfathomably rich and deep and entangled––in this together. and the suffocating earth is the everywhere evidence of it. as is so often the case, Fred Moten's words: "I don't need your help. I just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you, too, however much more softly, you stupid motherfucker, you know?") and it is worth saying, over and over, give yourself give others The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. read it again and again.
so, lately (which means like a wind that has risen slowly over some ten years), i've been living for what happens when something doesn't even mess with what's already there. when it just burble speaks joy reads when it pushes into or rubs up against a space that only by pushing into rubbing up against it lets you know that it was there at all, and maybe was there all along. sometimes i am given to see this in a classroom and it will take your breath away, every time. if the invitation is to "free" write, literally thousands of unspoken rules prop this invitation up: rules about propriety, language, discourse, grammar, intelligiblity, spatiality, architecture and on and on. you don't even see it. until someone, some one, breaks. and suddenly there is new space and suddenly we can see back at the ways we were––all of us––following rules we didn't need to follow, rules that made us smaller just to follow them.
unintelligibility is the risk and it is also the promise. because what does it mean when you're not understood but that somehow the system can not hear you see you hold you? that the things that have been legible you have somehow exceeded or undone, fallen underneath the radar of the readable or were not written into the laws of legibility to begin with? and so legibility can not be all there is and so it can't be all there is to work toward, may even be what we need to work against. loneliness here and even death sometimes but there are many of us moving with you most of us even and there is sight made possible outside of reading. and those of us excised know not to trust the facile and instrumentalized divide between the rational and the irrational, the sane and the crazy. before the paradigm is shifted the paradigm shifters are the mad ones.
knowledge has also been treated like a territory to be conquered, like a field waiting to be mastered, and these are not the only ways thinking functions and they can be untaught unlearned undone. opening to 'crazy' saying yes to it is one way. it is in the frothing babble of our togetherness that something else emerges, a getting with and moving towards, a nearing. and 'i don't get it' and 'i grasp your meaning' and 'i got it' and 'you get me' are all knowledge metaphors that have to do with holding, grasping, possessing––as if knowledge were a thing i could hold and own, sell and trade. and did you ever think how unveiled it is that the same words cannon and canon name the primary instruments of colonialism and of the modernity that is founded upon it? and so what does it really mean to lose your GRIP?
i always thought curation meant to care for and this seemed a pleasant purpose. but like so many things there are countless meanings for the act of caring. and curation stems from one that means to cure, and to be in charge of, and even, in some books, to oversee. that these words are haunted by the traces of mastery and of possession and of hierarchies often hidden should here be fairly plain. and so i am not interested in expanding the set of things a curator might show, for novelty's sake or any other reason. i am interested in gathering and peopling and entangling around ways to undo and uproot a system that bears a logic of exclusion, a system that has said some are worthy of sight and recognition and most of us are not. and this uprooting we do together and for a long time and as soon as possible. and there is no telling what emerges after that.
and if you don't get me, that may be a good thing (you are so much more than what you own than what you 'get'). people may shout, but what of order?! shall we allow chaos into museums, schools, politics?! how will art be sold?! how will artists make a living?! how will we establish values?! and we will shout back: but what of order shall we allow chaos into museums schools politics how will art be sold how will artists make a living how will we establish values?! only we will be meeting together and laughing with one another because that is one joy way to tear this shit down. and somewhere in the cacophonic mess of this echoing back and forth there is the senselessness we crave like air for someone in the hold where the air has grown too thin.
if you are holding this in your hands i hope you've come to a strange second floor space in an old building in manhattan, i hope you've gathered with us, entangled in puzzling out and puzzling in what it means to be live in space breathing together in the language bodies remnants visions senses sights of one another. and i am thankful to you and to Dylan Mira, Dean Daderko, Jess Arndt, robbinschilds, EJ Hill, Katherine Hubbard, Simone White, Michelle Boulé and keyon gaskin, these poet thinker artist performer radiator revelators who have gathered people together in this series of actions and doings that i hope will somehow undo the ways of what's been done before, leave something else other offered in its wake...
A Constellation of Art Actions: Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York City, Fall 2015
Writing Bodies is a constellation of art actions that generates questions, investigations, revelations, risks, fissures, sutures, shifts, around the practices, the promises, the politics, of being bodies––of being bodies writing, of being bodies written, of writing bodies, of being bodies read, unread, of being bodies yet unwritten. The first actions took place at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City from 9 September to 10 October, 2015. Participants include: Dylan Mira, Jess Arndt, E.J. Hill, robbinschilds, Dean Daderko, Katherine Hubbard, Simone White, Michelle Boulé and keyon gaskin.