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.
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Session #2: Silhouettes
Wash your hands
We are humans relearning to wash our hands.
Washing our hands is an act of love
Washing our hands is an act of care
Washing our hands is an act that puts the hypervigilant body at ease
Washing our hands helps us return to ourselves by washing away what does not serve.
Wash your hands
like you are washing the only teacup left that your great grandmother carried across the ocean, like you are washing the hair of a beloved who is dying, like you are washing the feet of Grace Lee Boggs, Beyonce, Jesus, your auntie, Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver- you get the picture.
Like this water is poured from a jug your best friend just carried for three miles from the spring they had to climb a mountain to reach.
Like water is a precious resource
made from time and miracle
Wash your hands and cough into your elbow, they say.
Rest more, stay home, drink water, have some soup, they say.
To which I would add: burn some plants your ancestors burned when there was fear in the air,
Boil some aromatic leaves in a pot on your stove until your windows steam up.
Open your windows
Eat a piece of garlic every day. Tie a clove around your neck.
My friends, it is always true, these things.
It has already been time.
It is always true that we should move with care and intention, asking
Do you want to bump elbows instead? with everyone we meet.
It is always true that people are living with one lung, with immune systems that don’t work so well, or perhaps work too hard, fighting against themselves. It is already true that people are hoarding the things that the most vulnerable need.
It is already time that we might want to fly on airplanes less and not go to work when we are sick.
It is already time that we might want to know who in our neighborhood has cancer, who has a new baby, who is old, with children in another state, who has extra water, who has a root cellar, who is a nurse, who has a garden full of elecampane and nettles.
It is already time that temporarily non-disabled people think about people living with chronic illness and disabled folks, that young people think about old people.
It is already time to stop using synthetic fragrances to not smell like bodies, to pretend like we’re all not dying. It is already time to remember that those scents make so many of us sick.
It is already time to not take it personally when someone doesn’t want to hug you.
It is already time to slow down and feel how scared we are.
We are already afraid, we are already living in the time of fires.
When fear arises,
and it will,
let it wash over your whole body instead of staying curled up tight in your shoulders.
If your heart tightens,
science says: compassion strengthens the immune system
We already know that, but capitalism gives us amnesia
and tricks us into thinking it’s the thing that protect us
but it’s the way we hold the thing.
The way we do the thing.
Those of us who have forgotten amuletic traditions,
we turn to hoarding hand sanitizer and masks.
we find someone to blame.
we think that will help.
want to blame something?
Blame capitalism. Blame patriarchy. Blame white supremacy.
It is already time to remember to hang garlic on our doors
to dip our handkerchiefs in thyme tea
to rub salt on our feet
to pray the rosary, kiss the mezuzah, cleanse with an egg.
In the middle of the night,
when you wake up with terror in your belly,
it is time to think about stardust and geological time
redwoods and dance parties and mushrooms remediating toxic soil.
it is time
to care for one another
to pray over water
to wash away fear
every time we wash our hands