[-empyre-] Final Week of May? What is Dystopia, Really?

KT Duffy ktduffyinc at gmail.com
Mon Jun 1 17:03:33 AEST 2020


HIEY!

Alejandro I'd like to follow up on your generous outlining of
chrononormativity. I keep returning to your paraphrasing of Mark Rifkin's
assertion that chrononormativity is an inherently settler-colonial
construct that shapes western notions of temporality. When I first read
this, I immediately began to connect it to many of our recent conversations
around the concepts of refusal as a productive form of negotiating one's
relationship to power as well as refusal as an enacting of queerness. A
text which can help us establish a base of understanding for this concept
is One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
<https://libcom.org/files/Marcuse,%20H%20-%20One-Dimensional%20Man,%202nd%20edn.%20(Routledge,%202002).pdf>
(Angela
Davis's graduate professor at UC San Diego ). In One-Dimensional Man,
Marcuse outlines what he refers to as a "great refusal," which prioritizes
"negative thinking" as a counterweight to forcible positivism and as the
only appropriate or adequate opposition to systems of domination and
control. For me, this concept initially feels really out of reach within a
contemporary context where we are constantly conscripted to participate in
a surveillance capitalist system for effective everyday life.

However, then I look to projects like The Nap Ministry
<https://www.instagram.com/thenapministry/?hl=en>that employ rest as
refusal and rest as a form of resistance and reparations. When I think
about how one might practically enact this practice of refusal on an
individual level my thoughts immediately go to the idea of "doing nothing,"
which the Nap Ministry counters by offering its orientation towards
productivity, which is to be solely in service of radical self-care. In
this actualization, the Nap Ministry states that "you [may] believe it is
unproductive because it seems as if you are doing nothing. But you are not
doing nothing, you are healing." Rifkin does the labor of giving shape to
the ways the straight progression of time leaves no room for alternatives
to western temporality, and the Nap Ministry answers with nap time. Nap
Time is the alternative time/space that exists to negate normative notions
of what or whom productivity should service.

I'm interested in other ways artists are reframing refusal, particularly
how refusal can influence curatorial practice. As an artist that curates, I
approach refusal as a metric for framing Trans and GNC experiences. For
many of the artists I work with, this practice of refusal comes naturally.
We do not, and will not, fit into the binaristic scenarios outlined for a
tidy identity. As a broader community, with intersections into race, class,
and ability, who do not fit into the "forms of temporal experience that
seem natural to those whom they privilege" we can leverage refusal,
pointing back to the Ministry Of Naps, to productivity solely as a means of
radical care and construction of self.

take care y'alls - KT

On Sun, May 31, 2020 at 11:05 PM alejandro t. acierto <aacierto at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Thanks for these follow up posts, y'all.
>
> First, to address Byron's questions, the idea of chrononormativity is
> actually outlined initially in Elizabeth Freeman's book Time Binds: Queer
> Temporalities, Queer Histories <https://www.dukeupress.edu/time-binds>, a
> term that refers to "the use of time to organize individual human bodies
> toward maximum productivity." In her book, she traces ways that
> institutional, systematic, and societal forces embed "hidden rhythms" as
> "forms of temporal experience that seem natural to those whom they
> privilege" that give way to the assemblage of *chronobiopolitics.* As a
> process that "extends beyond individual anatomies to encompass the
> management of entire populations," chronobiopolitics illuminates the ways
> normative institutions tie bodies to narratives of movement and change. For
> example, we might consider the institution of marriage as a prerequisite
> for childrearing, given the normalized heterosexual standards for these
> events within our lifetime. As each of these moments historically happen in
> sequence (we are socially and economically punished if we have children
> before marriage), we begin to see Freeman's argument take shape as it
> affects nonnormative bodies, or particularly queer bodies who - at the time
> of her writing - were still not able to legally marry in the US, let alone
> navigate alternatives to raising children in the event that partners (or
> single people) could not produce their own offspring. This is of course one
> of many circumstances that Freeman outlines initially in her introduction
> <https://watermark.silverchair.com/9780822393184-001.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAjYwggIyBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggIjMIICHwIBADCCAhgGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQMyCz8d-xymLr_GQhMAgEQgIIB6cUJNW_rDmAqm1Rv1WU-cJfsumdh21yDbc9pkSOrXbsgTsJ8qEefoVc60wm2fbXBlmrnD-nFGzUw54pEyfBMijrTuwgZGDbYDhgXtWnIHQsDCtDm1MLfMjRTO9ZVi6YS-As_LVLMvxlpQZxvba2kR4ohtGdSoXqdg-CIW9k5BJRIGx1wdFMmojgKXQO3Lzsbe1mMYsd-Ztak2OVBthW4Tjw_PpXhOA038ocm68809PDE6sC_5_Bbpe2G6IKNeYc89mzMAOu8QXtKvziJmeXlfIkyZk8ztdJh_hcgkKPD75NAO2zXI6fDEWi8yh2oTjSbf_Jky2iibXmXsj-ysTlixwxNZMY4eL8telsH5OVXvNNQ3QLJvG-a2rFaWq43UFrYdhlMtRCIu0OJ50aK3Hye8Fiy_QrxVlWR81TaSBZViERRrVflIIjn52ZJ5BlTHBDRJpzn7IhqaFJndlnaunsyttlCUGsnxlx9IM15svyYRSlyTjEiPdODQOYnD0aLW--FES8jEoqzZkVM6UllTVKVBo9bsWwLcmUKCLIJLKMo46wMT4vG6bBqynuFikZTs9C7IR-2kHeXOV5-bmAEHIH_ElHI4BslUtvsVcDevLI7GUqyxTEgGrFNcncwvdrYfwK7fEXk4BJSFZTaUg> that
> allow for the idea of chronobiopolitics to take hold. (It's also important
> to note that she recognizes these timelines as particularly concerning to
> the state's economic interests, whereby non-childrearing people are
> considered unable to fully contribute to the state's economic productivity.
> As she states, "in the eyes of the state, this sequence of
> socioeconomically "productive" moments is what it means to have a life at
> all.")
>
> Building on this argument outlined in Freeman's writing, coupled with the
> brilliant and generous work of Sara Ahmed from her book *Queer
> Phenomenology <https://www.dukeupress.edu/queer-phenomenology>*, Mark
> Rifkin adds to the assemblage of chronobiopolitics with a specifically
> Indigenous perspective. For Rifkin, not only is it important to understand
> the constructs of normative time as affiliated with a "straightness of
> time" (or the idea that western time's linear tendency forward is a
> *straight* progression towards endless capitalist notions of
> productivity), but he makes space for Indigenous being-in-time that does
> not always affiliate with linear concepts outlined in western temporal
> thought. It is important to understand that not all ideas of temporality
> function in a linear fashion, particularly as many Indigenous people
> consider other forms of temporal spatiality, such as circular time,
> concurrent time, or other conceptualizations of time altogether. For him,
> Indigeneity and Native-ness continue to be tied to settler colonial notions
> of history, particularly as several local and national
> institutions/museums/cultural sites present Indigenity as inherently past,
> or existing at a certain place in time. While it is naive to think that
> Indigenous culture no longer exists (let alone adapts to and is entangled
> with contemporary life), he raises the point that chrononormativity is an
> inherently settler colonial construct that shapes western notions of
> temporality.
>
> Drawing on Ahmed's writing
> <https://watermark.silverchair.com/9780822388074-001.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAjcwggIzBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggIkMIICIAIBADCCAhkGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQM3R-XTpW5t5Z8RXcKAgEQgIIB6kzY7Kmjwfa9noWMvpm980vgy_VnK0mQvREQwnu6-zsGaNzsUDZYWjnbQA28__52fmtKP4xXbKaFOr_psDmfMWVLwsSxJ35APZQC7nSZEe1loEPEZSsUp1PiFq9xj6bTLlq0kE5shchLi892JWwyogWq7vgx_wzdDGrUumE86xwXrXcU5huqeJdpA7sBJcAIDM_XG80bpCe4pKAhl0SCc7xZCvrBLT711iX1y3RICAmkxEbtMSt1PXlxV3hgvIHJMvjTdzwyxEi5OYNvhZaXDa0e-Y6BOtyA9M75i_fR6Ob0M_CH35P6wWjEnGiLoVwU8Q__RO3q5XlSVk4kXbD1tpONWRjG6tc04C19n9BnAC_vvojBu-jxSSR03vjoK6AWMJa2NzFLtSnncnratDaiRyhiUwc0YYUhUU5_f6ieLX_o4-16Y1LFIuIEvRM806pZp3-al0_AHZjaFuZbOBULqu2vkRmFIrnDzgSicxixY8Q4EisjsShaUsmCk_C-CnXSFdPYM8eX5-Lb1N8OfYbQPPXT8J0EYbUUeVE2dbIZ6WoZHhm9BMAVipQwi0Yh7yYDIg58AWORy67KnH0gwIKO5Dl-s9MOs_HCJ1CugE1SsIJ3ZNwbHOVFjS8tJsaeKqEOlJY4kIUCStjjSTw>
> that figures marginality as part of the "background", where "some things
> are relegated to the background in order* to sustain* a certain
> direction", Rifkin makes the point that "the background indicates what is
> held constant in order to perceive movement, including the passage of
> time." As he outlines in his introduction, Indigenous people have
> continually been relegated to the background as the settler colonial state
> has consistently absorbed, forgotten, and destroyed Indigenous claims to
> sovereignty and land. He continues, "If the coherence of the settler state
> and its presumptive absorption of Native peoples serve as the implicit
> structuring frame through which to approach and understand temporality on
> lands claimed by the United States, both the sharedness and the direction
> of unfolding events will be experienced as consonant with that geopolitical
> imaginary." In other words, as western temporal thought continues to push
> forward, there can be no space or way that other considerations of
> temporality could exist.
>
> For me and my curatorial interests, these texts offer a recognition of the
> ways power is expressed through biopolitical entanglements that Bergson's
> philosophy does not. Highlighting the ways difference and non-normativity
> shapes these temporal considerations, I was drawn to feature work that
> could speak to other kinds of time that were not tied to settler colonial
> frameworks. As such, much of this show featured work by queer, trans, and
> nonbinary folx as well as people who were occasionally, simultaneously
> BIPOC.
>
> ***
> To connect to other portions of this thread that expand on curation as a
> pedagogical tool, this project was also a way for me to share works with my
> students that were inherently intersectional and multimodal. While my
> students conducted studio visits with each of the artists to
> prepare exhibition texts about the works in the show, they were immediately
> placed in a situation where they had the opportunity to talk to artists
> about process, ideation, and creation. Through these conversations and
> close engagement with the work that would be on display, they were then
> made to consider how the larger frames of the curatorial direction helped
> inform the work in the show. Not only did we work through the Rifkin text
> that largely shaped my curatorial vision, we built on past readings and
> other ideas that students felt could contribute to the conversation.
>
> In addition to making a web-based work as part of the class, students also
> gained a more in depth understanding of the nuances and minutia of
> organizing a digital exhibition, what it meant to make something on a
> time-cruch, and how to deal with all of the logisitics of a medium-sized
> exhibition of largely international artists produced for IRL and URL
> experience. In addition to preparing the texts and files for exhibition, as
> well as preparing their own web-based works that would be included in a
> parallel exhibition, I gave students access to the overall budget numbers,
> timelines, and cc'd them on all correspondence to the artists so they could
> gain an appreciation for the work that goes into producing an exhibition.
> Because the exhibition was funded in part by a fellowship grant I received,
> I was grateful to be able to pay all of the artists a nominal fee and cover
> shipping costs for the transport of works to be shown IRL. All these
> budgets, timelines, and general descriptions were outlined in a shareable
> doc that students were able to access - including all of the deductions
> international artists had to take from their fees due to tax regulations or
> delays in shipping and days of correspondence and follow up. Because this
> document was shared with the class, students could pick up on work that had
> been left hanging, such as wrangling artists to get the work in, sharing
> ideas of placement for the IRL exhibition, or dealing with file conversions
> that our media players were suited for. All of this was scheduled, tracked,
> and maintained, and developed by my incredible students that gave them
> ownership of an international exhibition of works by 17 artists.
>
>
>
> in peace, alejandro
>
>
> alejandro t. acierto
> he/him/his
> Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Art and New Media
> Vanderbilt University
>
> www.alejandroacierto.com
>
>
>
> On Thu, May 28, 2020 at 10:36 AM Byron Rich <brich at allegheny.edu> wrote:
>
>> Thanks for the thoughtful responses, everyone. I’m really interested in
>> some of these curatorial projects. Can we dig into *Handmade by Robots*
>> and *Unsettling Time* a bit more?
>>
>>
>>
>> In the statement for *Unsettling Time, *you state that the exhibition“*…*foregrounds
>> Indigenous, queer, and postcolonial ideas around time. With work that draws
>> on the archives of networked society, these pieces offer new theoretical
>> formations, assemblages, and conceptualizations of time and temporality. In
>> an effort to decolonize time, this project sets out to destabilize the
>> chrononormative straightness of time, to allow it to exist outside of the
>> singular constructs of linearity and progress. As such, these works revise
>> how we might think of other times, of the durations and extensions that
>> push time into space, and of the multiple compressions of accumulated times
>> that enable us the capacity to offer singular objects and memories.”
>>
>>
>>
>> I literally CTRL+V that, so please forgive the highlighting. Anyway, I’m
>> really hoping you can help unpack some of this and dive into the
>> "chrononormative”. I’ve never heard this term, and am really interested in
>> the ways in which western concepts of time are and can be marginalizing.
>> Can you elaborate on the marginalizing effects more specifically? I guess I
>> have not given nearly enough thought beyond Bergsonian concepts of
>> simultaneity to time, and time as a scientific instrument. I think it would
>> be fantastic to have some insights into chrononormativity.
>>
>>
>>
>> Regarding *Handmade by Robots*, I’d really appreciate some thoughts on
>> the use of curation as a pedagogical tool. I’ve struggled to meaningfully
>> integrate any kind of cohesive curatorial practice into my teaching, and am
>> finding that it is only going to be more necessary given the effects of
>> COVID on higher-ed. It seems as though we will be required as art
>> educators, to work with non-traditional technologies of display more
>> meaningfully as we mediate both the classroom and the gallery via the
>> screen.
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> *Byron Rich*
>> Assistant Professor of Art
>> Director of Art, Science & Innovation
>> Global Citizen Scholar Faculty Director
>> Affiliated Faculty - Integrative Informatics
>>
>> *Allegheny College*
>> Doane Hall of Art, A204
>> Meadville, PA
>>
>> (o) 814.332.3381
>> www.byronrich.com
>>
>> Allegheny Lab for Innovation & Creativity
>>
>> www.sites.allegheny.edu/alic/
>>
>> Co-chair of Exhibitions & Events - New Media Caucus
>> www.newmediacaucus.org
>>
>> Reference letters require three weeks of lead time.
>>
>>
>>
>> *From: *alejandro t. acierto <aacierto at gmail.com>
>> *Sent: *Wednesday, May 27, 2020 7:57 PM
>> *To: *Ali Seradge <aseradge at gmail.com>
>> *Cc: *Byron Rich <brich at allegheny.edu>; empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
>> *Subject: *Re: [-empyre-] Final Week of May? What is Dystopia, Really?
>>
>>
>>
>> Hey hey y'all,
>>
>>
>>
>> Thanks for including me in these conversations Byron and for the lovely
>> introduction. I'm excited to take part in these discussions and will also
>> share a little bit more about some work that I've been engaged in that seem
>> relevant to this thread.
>>
>>
>>
>> In addition to collaborating with KT on *CQDE: a feminist manifestx of
>> code-ing*, I've been making work that considers how we make space for
>> others made vulnerable while highlighting the structures of power that
>> shape corporeal and spatial restrictions. While recent projects have been
>> focused on how these structures exist online, past projects have been
>> invested in the construction of archives at large and had not yet
>> considered the internet as archive or even as material. That aside, my most
>> recent installation *How to take up space when you’ve only been given
>> the margin
>> <http://alejandroacierto.com/how-to-take-up-space-when-youve-only-been-given-the-margin> *is
>> a work that questions the viability of hashtag activism in an era of
>> networked culture that centers trans Latinx activist and icon Sylvia Rivera
>> in her 1973 speech "Y'all better quiet down now!". Consisting of a software
>> work displaying a video fragment on a small 3.5in monitor in close
>> proximity to a neon sculpture, it's a project that relies on the Twitter to
>> advance frames within the video.
>>
>>
>>
>> In another project I completed last year*, *I sourced YouTube videos
>> made by cigar aficionados, hobbyists, and amateur experts that offered
>> their viewership tutorials on how to compare real and "fake" Cuban cigars
>> in preparation for a work as part of Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons's
>> curatorial project *Ríos intermitentes. *In an attempt to foreground the
>> conditions and prevalence of counterfeit and grey economies, I shared the
>> work* Puro <https://vimeo.com/331812470> *that begins with an
>> explanation of identifying the ultimate, most authentic Cuban cigar.
>>
>>
>>
>> As a curator, I worked on a project with my students called *Unsettling
>> Time <http://alejandroacierto.com/unsettling-time> *which looked at
>> ideas outlined in Mark Rifkin's book Beyond Settler Time: Temporal
>> Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination
>> <https://www.dukeupress.edu/beyond-settler-time>to consider queer and
>> Indigenous perspectives given the Internet's destabilization of time
>> altogether. With work drawn on various archives made possible by image
>> networks, the projects shown provided new theoretical formations,
>> assemblages, and conceptualizations of time and temporality and thus
>> *made* *space for* bodies, perspectives, and ideas historically made
>> vulnerable.
>>
>>
>>
>> In any event, I look forward to how these discussions unfold and am
>> excited about having the space and time to do so.
>>
>>
>>
>> more soon!
>>
>>
>>
>> in peace, alejandro
>>
>>
>>
>> alejandro t. acierto
>>
>> he/him/his
>>
>> Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Art and New Media
>>
>> Vanderbilt University
>>
>>
>>
>> www.alejandroacierto.com
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Wed, May 27, 2020 at 7:48 AM Ali Seradge <aseradge at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>
>> thank you for the intro Byron and having us join the thread!
>>
>> As KT mentioned, they and I run Langer Over Dickie
>> <http://langeroverdickie.com>.  We started this artist run space in our
>> home about a year ago. We made the choice to keep all the original trim and
>> domestic finishes to remind visitors that they are in a home. Our thoughts
>> were that we could present something other than a constructed white space,
>> literally and figuratively. We also strived to have demographic parity
>> between our yearly roster of artists and the population of Chicago.
>>
>> We are in the process of switching our scheduled shows into a digital
>> format while maintaining our course to present challenging work in an
>> accessible way.
>>
>> All these choices were made with the intent of making the gallery, the
>> art, artists, and community more accessible to a population that often
>> feels intimated and excluded by the “Art” world.
>>
>> As for my personal work, I am a painter. <http://aliseradge.com>  About
>> 85% of the time, my activity involves colorful mud and fuzzy sticks. The
>> other 15% involves digital making. Two conundrums that occupy my mind in
>> regards to digital making are “How is context created when viewing art
>> digitally?” and “Does that same context change if the art is originally
>> made for a digital space or not?”
>>
>> To sponsor such questions, I recently curated a show titled “Handmade by
>> Robots” <https://www.thevisualist.org/2019/11/handmade-by-robots/> at
>> Northeastern Illinois University. The call was for artists who used digital
>> technology in their art making process. The result was a show of compelling
>> work made with a wide variety of processes from sowing machine punch cards
>> to VR user based performances.
>>
>>
>>
>> I look forward to upcoming discussions :-)
>>
>>
>>
>> cheers,
>>
>> Ali
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>
>>
>>
>

-- 
KT Duffy
*they/their/Mx.*
Assistant Professor of Art & Technology
Northeastern Illinois University
ktduffyprojects.com
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