[-empyre-] Call and Response

Irina Contreras icontreras at cca.edu
Wed Dec 11 02:09:49 EST 2013


Thanks for all the interesting conversation. I've been approving comments
and glancing at them while a bit busy but am eager to read/hear more.

Byron, I was interested to read that the experiences of "poc/immigrant" etc
cannot be negated. I feel like that rings very true to me and which I see
in all invitees work this week, whether or not they may see it.

I also think that the idea of what is "shared experience" is interesting to
me especially since you bring up a bar as the main space of that. I feel
compelled by that a landscape, for example can be shared even if it is
experienced both contemporarily and historically in different ways.

And being that I am right now very interested and intrigued by the history
of essay films (we have not chatted about this I think!), I like the idea
of outsiders viewing such a thing as "documentary" especially as produced
by one that is a "director/participant".

This of course in some ways makes me think of one of my favorites,
Handworth Song from Black Audio Film Collective. Check it out if you can.
It sadly has been taken off the internet for now!

In response to what Dorothy commented on specifically regarding
"configuring audience etc", I think that the audience are the participants
and so forth. In the film, the audience is shown in a number of ways: via
the audience of the shows that are being filmed, knowing that Byron is an
audience member and then of course reflected upon yourself as you watch the
film. This last part was especially striking, I think at the
Screening/premiere in October in LA. And it almost made me feel that there
was a sentiment that the audience ie, those watching the film had an
insignificance. This is not negative to me, I appreciated the sentiment. As
 viewer of the shows from different locations shown in the film to one's in
DF, San Salvador etc I have felt similarly. I am here, I am gracious I am
here and this is not for me. Perhaps an interesting thing to note regarding
the film for those who haven't seen it is that this sentiment I had is also
off balance in a way because the film depicts the number of families for
example that attend shows for entertainment. Thus, my feeling to make
myself an outsider is indeed a powerful one/tool.

Thank you also for bringing this idea of phantasm into this Dorothy. I have
heard you/seen you posting a bit about this. Do you think you can elaborate
a bit more, maybe using an example from something else that you have seen?

This is a long post so I will comment to Sarah's two and Omar separately
and try to string them all in!

On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 10:54 PM, Dorothy Santos <dsantos at cca.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello everyone!
> I wanted to respond to Byron's post regarding his work regarding
> performance, film, and training. When I think of call and response related
> to performance, I think of the concept of the fourth wall and what ways
> that wall is broken by the P/WOC communities. There's a particular
> reverence people have for something such as traditional theater. But the
> ways in which Byron is engaging both his community and the audience, I'm
> trying to configure what the relationships and dynamics are between the
> artist/creator, subject, and audience.
> In Byron's case, the call for performers, their response to the call, and
> the audience's response actually bring to mind something that has come up
> in my research - phantasms and cultural phantasms. Phantasms, as defined by
> D. Fox Harrell, PhD are human imaginative cognition. Essentially, there
> are phantasms all around us. Some are ingrained in our visual perceptions
> (e.g., womyn and men's bathroom figures) but there are others that are
> pretty detrimental that we need to dismantle. Looking forward to seeing
> Reina de los Angeles because I want to see how we are let into stories and
> hystories that help us to blur lines and bring greater understanding to how
> we can get past mere binary constructs.
> On Sun, Dec 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM, Mactivist <byron at mactivism.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> In terms of call and response as a reframing of traditional formats, I'd
>> explore the process whenever I decide to create any work, be it
>> performance, film, and/or training.
>> This decision is not only informed by, but rooted in, lived experiences
>> in LA, and day-to-day interactions with specific communities, specifically
>> as an immigrant in Los Angeles.
>> That is to say, my work is not "Latino" or "queer" or "PoC" or seeks to
>> represent a specific struggle, but that does not mean its influences can be
>> negated, specially as it applies to shared lived experiences with
>> immigrant communities of color in LA.
>> I spent 6 months this year developing, producing, and editing Reinas deLos Angeles, a film that creates a space for "drag queen" performers in
>> pre-dominantly "gay Latino" bars in LA to talk about their work, and
>> document some of the conversations they've shared with each other and with
>> myself about their lives.
>> When developing this film, I was aware of the need to stray away from
>> traditional documentary form and structure. The purpose of this film wasn't
>> to present an "underground circuit/subculture" or to encompass the lives of
>> a group of people and wrap it up in 75 minutes. The goal of this film was
>> to serve as a tool to present oral hystories, and the work of performersin "drag" whose main shared experience revolved around the fact that
>> they've all performed at the same bars/venues.
>> That is not to say that some of their experiences did not overlap with
>> each other, nor with mine as the director, but in redefining what I wanted
>> to see as the outcome of this film, one which most outsiders would
>> categorize as a documentary, the film a space for every performer to share
>> their stories, and their work.
>> By working in a call and response mode, be it myself behind the camera
>> and them in the front, or themselves as performers and the rest of us as
>> audience both within and outside of the film, and even as they tackle their
>> views and opinions around various issues, the conversations getselevated to a much greater level and depth. Instead of the focus being
>> around myself and what I choose to present to the audience of "my" film, I
>> made the conscious decision of using film as a tool to facilitate the
>> presentation of these stories.
>> Byron
>> On Dec 4, 2013, at 10:47 PM, Irina Contreras <icontreras at cca.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Welcome to the December discussion, loosely based on "Call and Response"
>> and other thematics that I hope each week's guests can shed light on in
>> interesting and innovative ways.
>> Moderated by Irina Contreras (US) with invited discussants (rough
>> estimates of dates with possible changes):
>> December 5th to 11th: Omar Mismar (LB), Sarah Jones (TAS) and Byron Jose
>> (US)
>> December 12 to 16th:
>> Decolonize Your Diet (US), Cake and Eat It (US), Voicewaves (US) and
>> Dorothy Santos (US)
>> December 17th to 22: Mitch Brown (US), Juba Kalamka (US), Josh T Franco
>> (US) and Essex O. Lordes (US)
>> As Renate has said, the month came together very, very quickly! That
>> said, thanks for everyone that has joined in. I expect that much like a
>> party or a salon I can throw, this should be an interesting and juicy (and
>> possibly haphazard) 3 weeks.
>> This month I have invited discussants whose work and interests reflect
>> interests in call and response, whether I feel that it is about the
>> reframing of a particular viewpoint or the unwanted (and therefore
>> sometimes messy) contribution to a conversation. For myself, these have
>> frequently been starting points for my personal performance practice.
>> Though, I also know it to be something connected to my political practices
>> and interest as a novice/public archivist. I will slowly bring in my own
>> work and interests as we begin to delve into each discussant's topics of
>> interests.
>> The word "activism" is not present though I expect that it might come up
>> with various peoples work and given the nature of this site. Also, I have
>> added a few guests last minute who partake in DJ/musician/soundscape forms,
>> which I am really excited about as a music nerd. Call and Response, which
>> is an idea that comes from sound, a distinct succession of phrasing in
>> which it is apparent that one in fact, is heard as a direct response or in
>> tandem with another can hopefully be seen as a way in which we as makers,
>> thinkers, do-ers, writers etc engage in participation and refusal in
>> public, private and virtual spaces. I will also want to discuss later on
>> the ways in call and response is a product largely of colonialism, the
>> trans-atlantic slave trade and civic engagement/revolt.
>> These guests are inclusive of people I mostly all know who work across
>> diverse disciplines such as performance, writing, online shenanigans,
>> dj'ing, music, hip hop, political projects and film.
>> For this week, we will be chatting with Omar Mismar, Byron Jose and Sarah
>> Jones. I will introduce them now and wait to see if anyone jumps in!
>> Otherwise, be back soon!
>> Irina
>> --------------------------------
>> Omar Mismar is a visual artist born in Beirut, Lebanon. He was awarded
>> the Fulbright scholarship for 2012–2014, and he is currently pursuing an
>> MFA in Fine Arts and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies at the California
>> College of the Arts in San Francisco. His interdisciplinary art practice
>> is fueled by ideas of desire, intimacy, and the everyday: what people do in
>> the city, how we go about our routines, our free and alone time, our
>> private versus public lives. Walking, intervening, subverting, resisting,
>> satirizing, conversing, imagining, narrating, and browsing steer his
>> practice. He is fascinated by the figure of the detective.
>> Byron is a filmmaker, performance artist, writer, and educator. As an
>> immigrant in Los Angeles, Byron creates projects to deconstruct, divert,
>> and dictate norms, situations, and discourse. Through these works, Byron
>> presents byproducts struggling to be free. Using film, video projections,
>> the self, and ordinary occurrences, pieces are created to combat monotonous
>> expectations of art, while disregarding processes and form.
>> You can check out a link of Byron's film, Reinas de Los Angeles here:
>> https://vimeo.com/61485641
>> Sarah Jones (Perth, 1982) is a writer, artist and curator based in
>> Berlin. She graduated from the Tasmanian School of Art (UTAS) in 2007 and
>> is currently completing a Masters of Fine Arts at the Dutch Art Institute
>> (DAI), Netherlands. Sarah recently participated in the *NOA Language
>> School* at SMBA, Amsterdam, 2013; *The rise and fall of the continuous
>> cycle*, DeServiceGarage, Amsterdam, 2013; and*come to life* at the Queen
>> Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania, 2012. Selected curatorial
>> projects include: *Both sides of everything about something* at Sawtooth
>> ARI, Launceston; *The Hobart Urban Illumination Project *as part of
>> ITERATION:AGAIN, Tasmania; *trophywife *at Death Be Kind, Melbourne and
>> *Erotographomania* at CAST Gallery, Hobart, all 2011.
>> Sarah was the project coordinator for ITERATION:AGAIN, under the
>> curatorial direction of David Cross, 2011; project coordinator for the
>> Tasmanian Regional Arts, Tasmanian Youth Portraiture Prize, 2011; and the
>> Tasmanian project co-ordinator for the 2012 JUMP Mentorship program, for
>> Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania (CAST). In 2010 Sarah received an Arts
>> Tasmania, Assistance to Individuals Grant for curatorial research. In 2009
>> she was awarded the CAST Emerging Curator Mentorship and a NAVA Janet
>> Holmes a Court Artists Grant. She is a founding member of Hobart based
>> Artist Run Initiative 10%pending.
>> you can check out Sarah's work here:
>> http://sarahjones.net.au/
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