something about learning from the margins

there have been many headlines written about this dumpster presidency, but one of them keeps flashing through my mind; it is an article about how in this moment, we can learn from organizers resisting ICE in maricopa county, phoenix, arizona, the site of this country’s most racist and extreme laws against undocumented immigrants. we learn from the people who have been through hell, not the people who live in paradise.

somewhere between my last two trips to los angeles i felt a great comfort descend upon me with living on the margins. not that i consider living in a big city managing a high profile project to be in any way a marginal situation. i am referring more to the well documented spatial marginality of the south and the midwest relative to the coastal areas, from its access to culture, to its voting records.

another form of marginality i’ve been considering is the marginality of countries considered less developed in terms of late capitalism and representative democracy relative to the united states. is this true anymore? as the united states gets downgraded to a flawed democracy and we are shown to be the puppets, not the puppeteers, of international electoral manipulation,  what is the cold comfort that accompanies no longer being at the center of the world?

in migrant words, did i leave my homeland for this?

i’ve been asking myself these questions about a regional and global loss of centrality that was perhaps never mine to begin with. i have no answers because perhaps i too, retain a glimmer of a dream that somewhere is better than here. but i am learning to love the margin. i am learning to love the way it gives me critical distance with which to view the center, i am learning the value of the occasional slip into anonymity, i am learning hyperlocal contradictions that give bloom to the complexity in humanity; i am learning the bitter beauty of forging survival.

my artist community has been fretting about the loss of the national endowment of the arts, and while i by no means want it to go, living on the pseudo-margins has taught me that we don’t need anything, but ourselves, for the revolution.

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Weekly Reading List: Adrian Piper is a Visionary Bo$$ Edition

Stuff I’ve been reading on the internet instead of Jeff Chang’s Who We Be.

Orlando

It’s ok for your heart to break and it’s ok to feel nothing. It’s ok to read all of the articles and none of the articles. I’ve been in mourning. These are just a few articles amid the rubble.

National

Regional

Arts – Dallas

  • The Lost History of Dallas’ Negro Parks – “Joy and suffering exist in tandem in the telling of the story of the Negro parks. Celebration and violence go hand in hand. Whatever peace the parks maintained, they existed in a world that was surrounded by hatred.”

Arts – Other

  • VISUAL CULTURES OF INDIGENOUS FUTURISMS
  • Cannibalizing the Culture of Colonizers and Other Artistic Strategies
  • Art For the Art-World Surface Pattern
    1. We can ignore political problems, but we cannot avoid them.
    2. We avoid political problems by: refusing to read the papers; OR reading the papers BUT refusing to understand what we read about; OR acknowledging or complicity in the problems we read about BUT refusing to admit we could solve them through a personal commitment to change; OR admitting we could solve them through a personal to change BUT refusing to admit that we should make that commitment; OR making that commitment BUT avoiding acting on it.
    3. We avoid acting on a commitment to political change by: refusing to acknowledge the interdependence of the personal and political; OR acknowledging the interdependence of the personal and political BUT refusing to acknowledge the political impotence of our personal lives qua personal; OR acknowledging the political impotence of our personal lives qua personal BUT refusing to recognize its dependence on a system of political oppression of others that makes our personal lives possible: Recognizing this but trying desperately to rationalize our lives by invoking other values like personal freedom, aesthetic pleasures, the right to privacy, etc., etc.- As if such values could have any meaning in the absence of true political freedom.
    4. Art for the Art- World Surface Pattern surrounds you with the political problems you ignore and the rationalizations by which you attempt to avoid them.
    -from the “Paris Biennale 1977” catalog (Paris, France Mus’ee d’Art Moderne, 1977
    Adrian Piper