• In this Session

    Session #2: Silhouettes

    Welcome to session #2 of the online space Migratory Times, “Silhouettes.” 

    Silhouettes are made by amateurs, artists, alike, and even cast as a shadow in the everyday. A silhouette is a shadow, profile, miniature cuttings, shadow portrait, illuminating a relationship between light and dark. Utilized by artists and activists alike, the mobilization of the silhouette in the visual has, as described by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the capability to image race and “otherness.” Some silhouettes are iconic – where the relationship between the light and dark have captured local and global imaginaries. Kara Walker’s paper silhouettes tell a story of the US south as one shaped by violence, both sexual and racial. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, an association formed in the 1970s, drew awareness to the disappearances occurring during the Argentinian dictatorship (1976 – 1983). Through shadows, the place with light and dark, outlines, silhouettes speak. As this session illuminates, silhouettes manifest in intentional and unintentional actions by artists, community members, scholars, and producers. The image that is created through the interplay and production of light and dark, speaks to coloniality and oppression. As described by Maria Lugones, “Given the coloniality of power, I think we can also say that having a dark and a light side is characteristic of the co-construction of the coloniality of power and the colonial/modern gender system” (2007).

    This session includes events that occurred since 2017. It includes a Salon of the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects with Pedro Pablo Gomez, that occurred in March 2017 – transcripts and audio of the salon are featured. This session also features pedagogical conversation, a Salon with the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects – Silhouettes: Migration, (Un)Documented, and Pedagogies, where IiS members Fukushima and Benfield facilitated discussions surrounding the work of Sonia Guiñansaca and artist and muralist Ruby Chacón, and invited Crystal Baik, Jose Manuel Cortez, Cindy Cruz, Marie Sarita Gaytan and Juan Herrera. Silhouettes include the contributions of the artist Kakyoung Lee and her work from the “Barbed Wire Series” which consists of a series of prints, multi-channel moving-image installation, and a cat’s cradle shadow installation. Stills from Kiri Dalena’s Arrays of Evidence Installation, are showcased, in which this project was also contributor to the Migratory Times Project. Also included are images and the video, “Christmas in our Hearts” by RESBAK (RESpond and Break the silence Against the Killings), a collective of artists, media practitioners, and cultural workers that unite to condemn in the strongest possible terms the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs.   In the Spirit of Itzpaplotl, Venceremos, introduces a feminist collaboration between artist and painter, Ruby Chacón, photographs by Flor Olivo, and feminist scholarly research by Dr. Sonya Alemán. Additionally, featured video and images produced through “Women in Migration” (2017) which consisted of a collaboration between the Institute of (Im)Possible Subjects (IiS) with the University of Utah Museum of Fine Arts A.C.M.E. session featuring IiS members Dalida Maria Benfield, Damali Abrams, and Annie Isabel Fukushima, and collaborations with UMFA Jorge Rojas and Emily Izzo and Utah community members Romeo Jackson, Maria, Yehemy, Veronica, Alejandra, Ashley, Jean, Alex, Akiva, Kylee, Andrew, and Christina.  Therefore, Silhouettes is an invitation to scholars, artists, visual producers, the everyday person, to submit works that speak to the coloniality and oppression through the silhouette.


  • Contributors
  • Calendar

Suggested reading for the Body & Horror

 Kelly, Carlos Gabriel. “Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories.Chiricu, vol. 4, no. 2, spring 2020, pp. 202+. Gale Academic OneFile 

MACSINIUC, Cornelia. “Normalising the Anorexic Body. Violence and Madness in The Vegetarian, by Han Kang.Meridian Critic, vol. 29, no. 2, July 2017, pp. 103–117. EBSCOhost, search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.lib.utah.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=127995505&site=ehost-live. 

Mbembé, J.-A. and Libby Meintjes. “Necropolitics.” Public Culture, vol. 15 no. 1, 2003, p. 11-40. Project MUSE 

Klein, Jennie. “The Chicago, The Dinner Party.” Khan Academy,

The Dinner Party (1974-79).”Judy Chicago

Womanhouse (1972).Judy

Chang, Edmond Y. “Squid Game, or, The Squeamish Pleasure of Asian Death.” Gamers with Glasses, 26 Oct. 2021.

Vo, Mai. “Squid Game: It’s More than a Macabre.” Trinitonian,18 Nov. 2021.

About Untitled Poster #1 and #2 by Diana Tran

Student Work (Untitled-Poster #1 & #2)
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, came the increase of harmful racial rhetoric, xenophobia, and unjustified blame towards the Asian community.
These posters are a visual representation of this hateful sentiment. Through their eyes, we are seen as a virus, the main cause of all the tragedies, and dehumanized to something that should be “cleaned up” and disposed of. But what is the real global disease- Asian people or bigoted blindness?

Learn more about Angela Smith’s research

Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Review 1 of Hideous Progeny

Review 2 of Hideous Progeny

Available through the U of U library for those with log-in: https://tinyurl.com/582zh648 

Article: “Walk This Way: Frankenstein’s Monster, Disability Simulation, and Zombie Ambulation.” Literature and Medicine Volume 36, No. 2 (Fall 2018): 412-438.  (requires institutional log-in) 

“Watching horror films is a disabling experience,” Angela M. Smith, Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies for the University of Utah and author of the book “Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema,” said. “It’s a controlled encounter with discomfort, with the vulnerability of our minds and bodies to images and suggestions that opens us to unwilled transformations.” https://www.indiewire.com/2020/10/freaks-disabled-horror-movie-1234590637/

Podcast interview on the movie Freaks: http://freaksandpsychospodcast.com/episode002/ 

Silk Skin Excerpt: “Visions of Samara” – by Sandra Del Rio Madrigal

She came loose-limbed, bones bent in all the wrong places. She didn’t breathe, didn’t require air, didn’t gasp for air as one should have. From my room, all I saw was a rag, a burlap sack perhaps, slumping its way across the small yard.  

I had first assumed a neighbor’s remote-control racecar drove the rag beneath. When she stood up, though, her shape revealed a strange form, an imitation of what I looked like. Where I stood ramrod straight, she curled against herself, and where I was tense, she was soft. Where I was clean and pristine, she was dirty, stained, and bloody.  

When she took two steps forward from the edge of the property, her feet flapped, like overgrown socks being pushed out from underneath her toes. Her long hands almost held her head from the waist as she hunched with tremor. Then, she extended upwards to face me as I faced her from behind my window, yet her back arched backwards exaggeratively. I feared she would fall from the unbalance, but she gracefully continued her steps towards the backdoor. Her hands dragged on the dry grass behind her as she advanced.  

When I waved, she waved. When I craned my neck, so did she. When I ran to the door to welcome the disfigure, she looked inside my home before coming in.   

The burlap that coated her body was rough to unstitch.  

Page Break 

I flustered as the silk knotted beneath the needle’s steady beat—again. The light layers of fabric were difficult to piece together as a novice. Despite my careful effort, the sewing machine ate the brown silk and chewed until the bobbin thread ripped. I sighed and pulled hard until the fabric came loose with a small snapping following it through. The loose threads looked like small body hairs coming out from the seams. It didn’t look unnatural. It added texture.  

After cutting the excessively long thread from where the stitching began, the piece almost looked completed. To me, at least. Doña Esme didn’t think it looked like anything.  

“Mija, look here,” she pointed at where the fabric had been chewed, “what kind of needle are you sewing with?”  

I shrugged. I had no idea there was difference between certain needles.  

“Mira, silk is slippery, verdad? You’ve probably noticed that it slips, and that it’s thin. That’s because silk is a very special kind of fabric. You’ve chosen it for a reason, no? The fact that you are using it means you have good taste. But, you must be gentle with it. The needle you are using is thick, and it pushes it all the way down into the machine, down to the bobbin. And then it won’t come up. Use a thin needle, like this one right here. You have all the needles you need in the pouch next to the machine. Let’s fix it up so that you can so your, uh, your ropita right here.”  

She taught me to change the needle, along with the foot. After, she left me to complete the piece.  

I had taken Samara’s measurements, had wrapped the tape around each angle and curve of her body until I knew everything I needed to know to replace the burlap skin. The burlap had been dirty, had been stained by countless shades of browns, greens, reds, and yellows. What was contained on the inside was worse—her muscles and bones had consisted of shards of glass, sticks, dirt, grass, along with gooey gunk. When I had asked her what the unfamiliar materials were, Samara only shook her head and waited for me to move on.  

But I had seen that gunk at the markets where my mother stood in line to ask the butcher for specific quantities of meat. I had seen that gunk when she bought chamorro de res, carne ranchera, diezmillo, and trozo. I had seen the way this gunk oozed with blood as our sharpest knife came down to pull chunks off a bone. How all that meat could dry and become brown, sometimes green if we forgot to make a stew before it rotted.  

Instead of saying, so, though, I went through her contents, pulling sticks through thick, long paper straws, and replacing the gunk with fabric scraps, or old buttons and beads. She molded herself with a light attitude, and asked me to discard the burlap sack (which now contained the gunk we had taken out.)  

I promised her I would bring her a prettier fabric for her to wear as a new skin. She asked for one as pretty as mine. Now, she only needed to shimmy into the silk skin I had assembled for her.  

© Sandra Del Rio Madrigal 2021

Migratory Monsters Reading List

Calafell, Bernadette. (2018). Special issue of the Journal of Popular Culture Studies on Monsters and Monstrosity. Download.

Kay Hansen, Michelle. “Willful Monstrosity: Gender and Race in 21st Century Horror NatalieWilson. McFarland & Company, 2020.” The Journal of American Culture. 43.3 (2020): 272-73. Download.  

Mickelsen, Anna. “Ring Shout.” Booklist, vol. 116, no. 22, 1 Aug. 2020, p. 45. Gale Academic OneFile. Download.

Tuck, Eve and C. Ree. “A Glossary of Haunting”. Handbook of Autoethnography, edited by Stacey Holman Jones, Tony E. Adams, and Carolyn Ellis, 639–658.  Left Coast Press, Inc, 2013.  Download.

Migratory Monsters Text on Flyer

Migratory Monsters Series

Free virtual dialogues on horror and diaspora

[Image of a monstrous figure]

October 26 10AM MST / 12PM EST – Visions of Monstrosity

Rebecca Close, Kakyoung Lee, Sandra Del Rio Madrigal

November 30 10AM MST / 12PM EST – The Body and Horror

Angela Smith, Diana Tran, Sandra Del Rio Madrigal

December 3 – Time TBD – Author Reading

Sandra Del Rio Madrigal

Register: https://bitly.com/migratorymonsters

Facilitators: Dalida María Benfield and Annie Isabel Fukushima
Event by the Institute of ImPossible Subjects in collaboration with University of Utah Office of Undergraduate Research University of Utah Division of Ethnic Studies

Zoom Link

Prezi to Follow Along Flash Sharings


Thinking about Pandemic Time and Space

I used Vine Deloria, Jr.’s essay, “Thinking in Time and Space,” from God is Red (1973) as a reference to inform my thinking around space, time, and our relationships with one another. As I have said elsewhere, the global pandemic brought upon through the mishandling and (in what is presently the United States) inept management of any sort of competent response is, to me, a metaphor for late capitalism and the failings of the neolibral state. The crisis we are all experiencing right now, in one form or another, has laid bare already-existing national and global inequalities across so many levels of society. In the states we are witness to the real dangers of a lack of a cohesive, national healthcare system, through access to resources (testing, protective equipment, medical care) and across the communities and areas most affected (Black/brown folks, those who are incarcerated or in detention centers, the unhoused). At the same time, the president and his acolytes have called for states to “open up.” In several states and localities, including where my parents live in Texas, it seems like things are going back to business as usual, no matter the dangers. And just yesterday (April 30, 2020) armed protestors in Michigan, my home state, stormed the capitol building in Lansing demanding an end to the restrictions. Let’s call them terrorists, and recognize how their investment in white supremacy not only motivates their presence–witness the confederate flag on display–but also shields them from the violent response of the state so often applied to collective movements for equality and restitution.  In California, where I now live, we have been asked to shelter-in-place, and for those of us with the privilege and ability, to work from home, unless we are essential workers. Where is the compensation or even safeguards for those “essential workers” who are literally risking their lives right now?  We are practicing social distancing, which, again, to me speaks of late capitalism and a neoliberal desire to reduce all of us to individual units, on our own, always in competition. What about community-building and collaboration, mutual aid and solidarity? If we are no longer able to recognize the physical distance between us then what is left?

Tired of Walking North


Suggested Reading & Viewing List from Romeo García


Racial Capitalism: A Fundamental Cause of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Inequities in the United States by Whitney Pirtle

Márquez, Gabriel García. Love in the Time of Cholera. Vol. 235. Everyman’s Library, 1997.

Contagion and Cuture by Martin Pernick

Contagious by Priscilla Wald

Fever 1793 by Laurie Anderson

“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgard Allan Poe








From: Annie Isabel Fukushima <anniefukushima@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, May 1, 2020 12:51 PM
To: Crystal Baik; Jose Cortez; Anye Marin Cisneros; Rebecca Close; Jackline Kemigisa; Isa Massu; alejandro perez; Jennifer Reimer; Taylor-Garcia, Daphne; Dalida Maria Benfield; Christopher Bratton; Michelle Dizon; Romeo Garcia
Subject: Mobility & Temporality – Some last minute things before May 4th


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