[-empyre-] Social Practice/Collaboration/Poetry

Margaret J Rhee mrhee at uoregon.edu
Thu May 19 05:30:02 AEST 2016

Hi All,

I echo Margaretha's thoughts on the discussion and Kyle's generative 
framing. I am deeply honored to engage in conversation with Margaretha's 
vital and evocative work. To begin, I will also share on two 
participatory art/social practice project I've been working on. Excited 
to engage in conversation.

The first is the Kimchi Poetry Machine, which is currently housed at the 
Electronic Literature Collective 3. Iterations of the project have been 
installed at SOMArts in San Francisco, the Asian American Avant Garde 
Festival at CIIS, and other locations. I work centrally as a poet, and 
this project is interested in how to open up poetry as a means of 
participation and collaboration. For the poetry machine's programming, I 
asked seven feminist poets to create short "twitter" poems for the 

The project is interested in how poetry can be participatory, feminist, 
and free.

I have placed the description from the project below, and you can check 
out the link to ELO V3 as well.



The Kimchi Poetry Machine is powered by open-source tangible computing. 
When the jar is opened, poetry audibly flows from it, and readers and 
listeners are immersed in the meditative experience of poetry. Small 
“kimchi twitter” paper poems are housed inside the jar, with each poem 
is printed an invitation to tweet a poem to the machine handle. Eight 
original feminist “kimchi twitter” poems were written for the machine by 
invited women and transgender poets. The Kimchi Poetry Machine prototype 
was created through my 2014 summer fellowship from the CITRIS (Center 
for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) 
Invention Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. As a response 
to “bookless” libraries, The Kimchi Poetry Machine reimagines how 
tangible computing can be utilized for a feminist participatory 
engagement with poetry.

 From the Center

The second project is From the Center, a decade long collaborative 
project that implemented digital storytelling education for incarcerated 
women of color in the San Francisco Jail. The project draws from the 
framework of feminist participatory action research, and is interested 
in how digital education can be utilized to create educational 
curricula. As a feminist collaboration with academic, public health 
advocates, formerly, and incarcerated women, we focused on how 
incarcerated women, upon release, can join our team as paid research 
assistants and leaders of the project.

In 2009, we began to explore how art practice and specifically 
documentary could be utilized to highlight social issues of HIV/AIDS and 
women of color. However, based on our commitment to feminist PAR 
principles, we decided to create a program where incarcerated women of 
color can gain digital art skills and hold roles as leaders and creators 
for HIV/AIDS curricula in the jail setting. We focus on constructionist 
learning--learning through creating, and how digital media access can be 
share for women inside and outside the jail setting as authors, 
directors, and storytellers of their own lives.

We are currently updating our website. For more information, you can 
view the digital stories here: https://vimeo.com/26096719

As Margaretha and Kyle posit, I'm very interested in ethics and the 
politics of social practice community/collaborative art. I am interested 
in working through issues of power,  and how as Kyle writes, "taking 
seriously the idea that arts practice can meaningfully combat the 
seemingly inevitability of dispossession." I am moved by Margaretha's 
interventions with Guerrilla Grafters that transform the cityscape not 
only with graft of fruit but the socio-political implications 
"introducing new connections and conflicts between grafters, property 
owners, various human and non-human fruit eaters, and city officials."

I think much of the collaborative work is one that transgresses roles 
and places people in necessary conversation (or/and conflict) for social 

One of the most moving outcomes of From the Center, was when one of the 
participants Helen Hall was able to present her story Miracle to 
HIV/AIDS researchers at UCSF, and  how art can intervene within binary 
economy of community/experts and center issues of incarceration: 

I'd love to explore questions of institutional critique and social 
practice art. What is gained and lost when social practice art is 
legible as "art" within particular institutions? How is change 
(structural and individual) occur through aesthetics? How does one teach 
social practice art, especially when engaged within and with 
institutional power? I've found myself retiring to read Linda Tuhiwai 
Smith and Paulo Freire and love to discuss how their concepts of 
libratory education and knowledge product may shape the discourse on 
social practice, community collaboration, and advocacy. Also interested 
to discuss affect such as grief, joy, and pain.



Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon

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