We are pleased to announce a new collaborative series, NewHive for PAPER, with our friends at multimedia publishing platform NewHive, which will run bimonthly on Papermag.com. Featuring artist interviews, first looks, deep dives and special projects, this column will be co-curated by both outlets and showcase the practices of some of today's most exciting emerging net-based artists.
This guide is a non exhaustive compilation of ways cultural institutions, public or privately funded, can, should and will have to redistribute their material and immaterial resources when welcoming Black folx and people of color as well as their audiences. These are places where people with curatorial responsibility are overwhelmingly white and/or light skinned (as well as spaces that utilize the white cube/black box as the display frame). It applies to a wide scope of sometimes seemingly politically-disparate settings, such as museums, community centers, galleries, parties, workshops, concert halls, URL platforms, universities, foundations, theaters, classrooms, autonomous and/or self managed spaces, online art shows, and more.
This guide was born of a conversation I had with fellow artist niv acosta about the abuse we were both undergoing in our respective workplaces. He was in North Carolina, in a university full of Black ghosts, giving a talk about structural racism with his mother and little sister. I was in Switzerland giving a twerkshop and a talk to a room full of well-meaning white liberals. The exhaustion we both felt at the end of the day, and the similarities between the disregard of our situation, bodies, and well-being as afro-diasporic artists being asked to perform in white institutions were the grounds on which I decided to write this guide.
For example: When I got to the Swiss airport and went through customs, I was stopped and questioned with psychological techniques specifically designed to crack me open. Custom officers went through my luggage and vacuumed it to see if there was a trace of illegal substances. I was made to bow down in front of a dog so it could sniff my hair. I finally went through, and I had to take a train from the airport to the main station with my suitcase -- on my own. When I got to the main station, I was stopped and frisked by the police again, with the same psychological warfare techniques. I arrived to the venue in tears, only to find white European people with no empathy or understanding. Once there, I said to the programmer: "Next time please send me a taxi to the airport". To which she responded "But this never happened to us before". This hardened my face, and before breaking it down to her, I had to make a conscious effort to make myself fluffy and non-threatening, because in her response I saw already the premise of "Angry Brown Girl." Dear white programmer: I am not a white person with a light purse arriving unbothered from another country. I am an afro-diasporic womxn with heavy emotional and physical luggage, hypervisible to the police, arriving at a white institution. Asking for a cab to be waiting for me at the airport is not me being an overdemanding diva, but one of the ways the white institution can support my practice and presence in a hostile environment.
From the moment a white institution first contacts the artist of color -- in its pro-Black, pro-hoe, femme-centric, anti academic, non-european, decolonial meaning -- until the artist's arrival back to their "home", there are numerous ways we are subjected to gendered, racialized, corporative, corrective, institutional, financial, state and police violence. This guide addresses the supportive roles the white institution needs to continuously develop when welcoming Black folx and people of color. There needs to be a genuine will to keep acknowledging our complicated realities, to let go of a universal framework based on vague notions of diversity, and to provide tools for a targeted approach relying on inquiry, analysis, criticality, and reparation.
The guide is based on my own experience and embodiment, and will continue to grow and evolve. I welcome your ideas on how to protect the presence of Black folx and People of Color at the white institution.
Tabita Rezaire is a French born Guyanese/Danish new media artist, intersectional preacher, health practitioner, tech-politics researcher and Kemetic/Kundalini Yoga teacher based in Johannesburg. Tabita's practice explores decolonialized health and knowledge through the politics of technology. Navigating architectures of power -- online and offline -- her works tackle the pervasive matrix of coloniality and its affects on identity, technology, sexuality, health and spirituality. Her digital healing activism provides alternative readings confronting our white-supremacist-patriarchal-cis-hetero-globalized world screen. Tabita is a founding member of the tech health agency NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy center SENEB.
Fannie Sosa is an afro-descendant activist, artist and curandera. She performs with the School Of No Big Deal and her talk/workshop "Resistance Is In The Cracks", where she challenges the binaries continually reconstructed between Self and Other, between our own 'cannibal' and 'civilized' selves, has toured internationally. She is currently doing a France-Brazil co-directed PhD called "Twerk, Torque: New Strategies for Subjectivity Decolonization in Web 2.0 Times". Her work is built around pleasurable resistance, the processes of being/becoming an outsider in technoscientific worlds, trans-ness, divine pride and sexual decolonization, often using matriarchal and indigenous/afro-diasporic references as a form of resistance against oppressive epistemologies and binary terror. Fannie Sosa currently lives and works between Europe and South-America. She uses her gender studies degree to pop her pussy even more severely than before.