[-empyre-] Week Four: Racial and Decolonial Play

Margaret Rhee mrheeloy at gmail.com
Tue Oct 22 07:57:25 AEDT 2019

Many thanks to Jerry, Chase, Kale, and Erica for last week's incredible
discussion on Queer Methods, Ethnography and Play. It's a honor to engage
with everyone's insights and work. I hope the conversation continues with
the many intersections with racial/decolonial play.
For this month's discussion, we're interested in artists, thinkers, and
activists with artistic practices that cross over boundaries and intervene
in dichotomous logics. With attention to justice, we explore how multiple
forms of art practices prompt us to reimagine different kind of worlds, as
strategy and survival. We're honored and grateful to our participants this
week on Racial and Decolonial Play: Maria de Los Angeles, Craig Santos
Perez, LeConte Dill, and Gabriela Córdoba Vivas.

In particular, the artists of this week engage with activist practices and
play, from painting on paper dresses in advocacy of undocumented women by
Maria de Los Angeles, collective artistic and political action in Columbia
by Gabriela Córdoba Vivas, the collaborative public health interventions
with poetry and public health in Black communities with LeConte Dill, and
the advocacy of Pacific Islander communities and politics through poetics
and publishing by poet and scholar Craig Santos Perez. All of the artists
of this week provide a model for activist practices of collaboration and
play across borders and mediums and writing.

Our participants provide vital interventions in their work and I've been
deeply moved by their interventions and artistic and collective practices
of collaboration. I invite them to share further about their projects,
their activism, and if and how play impacts their approaches and creative,
and collaborative practices?

*On Practice and Play: Gestures Across Genre*
In this month's -empyre- forum, we take up the question of productivity and
and the politics of play, and how playing across genres, mediums, forms,
disciplines, and departments, etc. makes for new kinds of innovative art,
thinking, and community; and in doing so, better intervenes and gestures
toward transformative futures. The current conspiracy-us versus them-
culture perhaps exemplifies the problem of singular thinking and the need
for creative, eclectic, and innovative practices more than ever. We’re
interested in artists, thinkers, and activists with practices that cross
over boundaries and intervene in dichotomous logics. With attention to
justice, we explore how multiple forms of art practices prompt us to
reimagine different kind of worlds, as strategy and survival. Initially
inspired by Tony Conrad's work, his practice spans across film, music,
writing, and sculptures, we playfully ask how play lends itself to more
libratory ways of creation and practice.
We begin with the first week on media and new media art in conversation.
with Tony Conrad's playful work across mediums, we then move into a second
week asking questions on poetry and playing across the visual, cinematic,
and theoretical, the third week is dedicated to the theme of ethnography
across forms such as photography, film, and poetry, the forth week focuses
on the ways artists advocate for decolonial and racial resistance through
playing across genres and forms. While seemingly diverse, we hope the
loosely organized topics will lend itself to connections between the weeks,
and across the genres and themes presented. With attention to questions
such as capital, creativity, institutional critique, and justice, we’re
honored to have the following artists and thinkers join us for this
conversation and reflect on the possibilities of practice, gestures, and
We also invite our -empyre- subscribers, whose own work broadly resonates
with the themes of practice and play, to join the conversation. What are
the ways your practice has played or plays across genres? Have you faced
institutional challenges in crossing disciplinary divides, and if so, how
did you overcome them? Is play and practice productive? We explore this
topic of play through four loose themes. We welcome our guests and all
-empyre- subscribers to actively participate and post this month and share
your practices and experiences of playing across genres and any questions
that arise. We look forward to the conversation.

*Racial and Decolonial Play *


*Dr. Craig Santos Perez*is an indigenous Chamoru poet and scholar from the
Pacific Island of Guam. He is the author of five collections of poetry and
the co-editor of four anthologies. He is an associate professor in the
English department at the University of Hawaiʻi, Manoa, where he teaches
creative writing, eco-poetry, and Pacific literature.

*Dr. LeConté Dil*l was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and is
currently creating a homeplace in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. She holds degrees
from Spelman College, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, has participated in VONA
Voices and Cave Canem workshops, and was a 2016 Callaloo Creative Writing
Workshop Fellow. LeConté's work has been published in a diverse array of
spaces, such as* Poetry Magazine*, *Mom Egg Review*, *The Killens Review of
Arts & Letters*, *Journal of Poetry Therapy*, and *The Feminist Wire*. She
is a scholar, educator, and a poet in and out of classroom and community
spaces, and is currently the Director of Public Health Practice and a
Clinical Associate Professor at NYU.

*Maria de Los Angeles* is a multidisciplinary artist  addressing issues of
migration, displacement, identity, and otherness through her drawing,
painting, printmaking, and fashion. She holds an MFA in Painting &
Printmaking from Yale School of Art (2015), a BFA in Painting from Pratt
Institute (2013), and an Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Santa Rosa
Junior College (2010). She was awarded the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize
by Yale University (2015) for her artwork and her role in the community.
De Los Angeles has been an Artist in Residence at several notable
institutions such as the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS
MoCA), El Museo del Barrio in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of
Art (LACMA), Mana Contemporary in New Jersey, Oregon Center for the Arts at
Southern Oregon University, and the Schneider Museum of Art in Ashland,
Oregon, where she had a solo exhibition in 2018. Her work is currently on
view in "Tierra de Rosas" a solo exhibition at the Museum of Sonoma County
in Northern CA.
Recent exhibitions include group shows with Every Woman Biennial, Self Help
Graphics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, St. Johnʼs University,
Robert Mann Gallery, and E.TAY Gallery. She participated in a panel
discussion on xenophobia and deportation in America at Gavin Brown's
Enterprise. Her work has been featured in *Hyperallergic*, *NY Magazine,
HelloGiggles*, and *The* *Observer*.
Maria de Los Angeles says of her work, “Currently, my work is rooted in my
immigrant experience in the United States and how cultural identity is
built. As a bi-cultural person, I portray the images that have cultural
meaning, criminalization of migration, definitions of citizenship,
biculturalism, and how cultural identity is perceived by some in this time
of division and rising nationalism. I begin by drawing from my imagination
then, later, from photographs, combining the two to create a macro
migration narrative. Geographically, the imagery combines symbolism,
fictional and actual moments on the US-Mexican border; I emphasize what
life is like for undocumented persons in the United States.”
Instagram @delosangelesart
*Gabriela Córdoba Vivas *is a Colombian interdisciplinary artist and
scholar. She has worked in the intersection between artistic practices,
social justice, and social sciences for the last 10 years. In 2012 she
co-founded the collective CaldodeCultivo with which she has developed
projects that deal with the construction of dignified narratives of
communities in resistance and the amplification of their struggles in
cities like Bogotá, Gdansk, Barcelona, and Detroit. In 2017 she was awarded
a Fulbright Scholarship to study a Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo.
About the collective
CALDODECULTIVO, a Colombo-Spanish collective, whose work focuses on
subverting the impositions, exclusions, and violence of neoliberal
policies. Transiting from aesthetical to political strategies, we amplify
the struggles, the resistance tactics and the survival strategies of those
who are excluded from “development” but are the primary victims of it.
CALDODECULTIVO addresses conflicts of a global nature that manifest in the
local, using different artistic languages to create devices of
counter-information, agitation, and provocation, that work as mechanisms
for altering the quotidian and as catalysts for dissent.


Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

College Fellow in Digital Practice (2018 - 2019)
Department of English
Harvard University

Assistant Professor in Media Theory (2019)
Department of Media Study
SUNY Buffalo
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