[-empyre-] Remembering the white rainbow

Lucia Monge lmonge at alumni.risd.edu
Wed Nov 13 18:47:59 AEDT 2019

Hola todxs, I much appreciated last week’s discussion and I’m happy to join
this week’s conversation, thank you Margaretha and Ciclón for the
invitation. Making space to share rituals, methods for healing, and curses
seems important to learning as a community and to making practices more
sustainable in time.

In my art practice, rituals are sometimes outspokenly part the project
itself and sometimes part of a personal preparation. These do not come from
any specific culture or historical tradition, I craft them (sometimes in
collaboration with others) as ways to mourn and celebrate, to change
perspectives, to connect or to heal (although last week’s conversation
around remediation has productively complicated my thinking). My rituals
incorporate processes from the scientific method as well as intuitive,
embodied, and symbolic actions that do not necessarily "make sense" but aim
to "invite sensing". I strongly believe in the powers of the “what if” and
I am motivated to know more and differently rather than proving an idea to
be right and transferable.

Recently, for *Fruiting Bodies*:* Creative Experiments in Fungal
Inoculation & Mycoremediation* (a collaboration with Chloe Zimmerman, Chris
Kennedy, and Pleurotus ostreatus) we invited human participants to choose a
body part they wanted to heal or focus their attention on. Afterwards we
made agar sculptures of these body parts and inoculated them with oyster
mushrooms. We let them grow for some time before coming back together and
holding a burying ritual where all the mycelium-growing body parts were
buried in a tree-less tree pit in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This is an ongoing
project for us and we aim to adapt it in each iteration based on the site
and the resources available. We describe it as "a creative experiment to
consider the relationships between our bodies, fungi, the earth, and the
potential of remediations of many kinds. Throughout, we document and learn
with our fruiting bodies, allowing for a latent network of human and
non-human relations to emerge." This project is based on mycoremediation
experiments designed by Paul Stamets but incorporates movement, writing,
setting intentions, asking, offering, and most importantly sharing process.
Perhaps instead of being a remediation project we can think of it as a form
of care from Nepantla given its in-betweenness of methods? Or perhaps it is
just a mix of methods and I am confusing the hybrid with the in-between?

A second project that I would like to share is a series of sculptures made
to be used by groups of people, *Tools for Many Kinds of Selves*. These
sculptures propose different ways of locating oneself in relationship to
others (humans and more than humans) by temporarily preventing seeing,
extending limbs, making physical connections, or providing diverse
instruments for making contact. They come with initial prompts, but
participants are invited to propose and invent alternative scores and
configurations. Participants also document what they witnessed and
experienced while the sculptures/tools were being used and the narrative of
our time together is a compilation of these writings and drawings. This
project is rooted in the belief that sculpture can be a physical
manifestation of the space in between one and the other and also a means of
transferring touch.

I am hoping that if we can be in a situation in which we can re-perform or
reinvent our usual configurations then we can re-think what we think of
others, of ourselves, and of the way we are to relate. Not always so easy,
however, and as my abuelita says, "el camino al infierno está empedrado de
buenas intenciones."


On Mon, Nov 11, 2019 at 6:28 PM Lissette Olivares <
liolivares at fulbrightmail.org> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> The sky was dark, illuminated only by yellow orange artificial light -
> snow and wind pierced through the air as my entire world threatened to fall
> apart on January 11th 2011, as mi amorcito Luk Kahlo underwent another
> surgery to try to save his life.  It was that night, as we awaited a call
> from his surgeon, that the white rainbow came.  In that spiral of snow and
> bitter cold, in the middle of NYC’s samsara, we looked at each other and
> death did not exist, and for a moment, we felt calm, and then exuberant.
> It is no coincidence that on November 11th, 2019, almost eight years
> later, we begin an incantatory series of conversations to reconnect with
> the enchantment of Terra as we dare death again in the midst of intense
> global wounding that is neither new, nor nearly at its endpoint yet.
> As I attempt to seduce you into this conversation I know that you are
> probably reeling from the bad news, the sadness, the suffering, which is
> ubiquitous everywhere, and maybe even in your own body. We hurt. We are
> taking care of others in pain. For me, each week the amount of time I have
> to work with seems to spiral further out of control, to be able to care not
> only for those I love, but also to offer the basic care I need for my own
> body. Nonetheless I resist wearing a watch to manage my time because I
> cannot help but trace its functionality back to the dawn of capitalism and
> affiliate its technological complicity in the invention and management of
> wage labor.
> It seems to me that capital and accumulation have bewitched us for at
> least five hundred years. I will never forget the fervor with which Peter
> Lamborn Wilson insisted that capitalism is evil, an evil possession, and
> that to try to approach it rationally would never allow us to exorcise its
> grip over our lives. Undoubtedly the insatiable hunger and drive for gold
> and silver and surplus and power and superiority and now metadata has cast
> its curse upon earth beings relentlessly. It is worthwhile to remember Marx
> and his theorization of commodity fetishism, where he reveals how strange
> the commodity is, with its “metaphysical subtleties and theological
> niceties.”
> Every time I am searching for a way to understand how to heal from
> colonial wounding, how to mobilize collectively while appreciating the
> pluralities each of us carries within and beyond, I turn to Gloria
> Anzaldúa. I am grateful to Katie King for giving me the trace to Anzaldúa’s
> theorizations of nepantla and nepantlera, Náhuatl terms that Anzaldúa
> activates for elaborating what she calls a new mestiza consciousness.
> “Nepantla is the Náhuatl word for an in-between state, that uncertain
> terrain one crosses when moving from one place to another, when changing
> from one class, race, or sexual position to another, when traveling from
> the present identity into a new identity.” (Anzaldúa 2009, 180) *[1]
> Mariana Ortega offers a nuanced study of the polysemy of Nepantla in
> Anzaldúa’s extensive work and argues that it is the tolerance for ambiguity
> and contradictions which Anzaldúa finds absolutely necessary for the new
> mestiza’s possibility of transformation and resistance. (Ortega 2016, 27)
> By calling out to Nepantla I also attempt to identify the middle world
> within each of us, the contradictions and complementarities that spin
> together from Coatlicue’s cosmic wind, breathing change and transformation
> through our bodies. After reading about this I am convinced that yesterday
> it was Coatlicue’s’ winds that anointed me with the new name I have been
> seeking, Ciclón, a windy storm that emerges from the naga’s loop.
> Let us then be intoxicated with Anzaldúa and practice from the middle
> world, what the jhankris of Nepal call Guru Gom, as I invite you to
> collectively naguahl, to shapeshift, with this group as we share
> methodologies.
> In the midst of the extractive pain and in search of the magic, which we
> cannot forget also abounds on Terra, I feel the need to call upon fellow
> practitioners who are devoted to technologies of consciousness, who will
> help us to decolonize mind and body with their own customized toolkits.
> More than just a conversation, I am confident that we will be mobilizing
> our shared breath, our prana, in an effort to heal one another, that we
> will join forces and leave a haunting on this technological platform.
> [1] Cited in Mariana Ortega in In Between: Latina, Feminist Phenomenology,
> Multiplicity, and the Self, NY: SUNY Press, 2016, pg 27.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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