Lorraine O'Grady

Equilibrio Norte

Standing Rock, Texas and the Xicanx, Mexicanx Nation

Derelicts Dish
"I knew and admired the films of Pasolini, but the one that absolutely enchanted me was his 1970 feature-length documentary Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana (Notes for an African Orestes), which I saw in 2003. In it, Pasolini documents his preparations for a planned but never completed film version of the Oresteia set in Africa. Probably the most eloquent sequence is the one in which Pasolini invites African students in Rome to a large auditorium where he explains to them what he wants to do and why he thinks the only authentic setting for this bloody political family tragedy today (i.e., the 1970s) is in Africa, where there are still states fighting for independence, for the right to determine which direction their countries will take. He then asks the students what they think of his idea. After a painstakingly polite start to the discussion, the African students destroy Pasolini’s notion of Africa and his interpretation of the play. All of a sudden they start talking about an African society that is faced by a nearly insurmountable mountain of problems. I was shocked when I saw Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana in 2003, thirty-three years after it was made. The African students in that nameless Roman classroom described all of the problems African states are still dealing with today and probably will still be dealing with for generations to come. That was the first lesson I took from it: nothing going on in Africa today would have been any surprise to Africans in 1970. The second lesson, however, was an even bigger one. Pasolini listened attentively, answering their questions, and when it was clear the African students had reshaped his vision, he posed a question to them: How do you think this subject should be filmed, and is it even possible? Pasolini took his audience as an equal partner. To this day, the intelligence of that creative debate remains unsurpassed. I had never seen anything like it before, and I fear I never will again. Creative intelligence, defined as absolute openness to other points of view, no longer exists today. All we do is shout over each other. Listening is a vanished art. We haven’t listened for ages. Which is probably why in my weaker moments I believe the emotional insight, intelligence, and precision in describing society attained by cinema in the 1960s will never be surpassed, let alone equaled."

- by Tomáš Zmeškal and translated by Alex Zucker here

"Abrazamos la idea del cambio con el sueño de que cambiando las relaciones de producción y distribución íbamos a tener un hombre nuevo. Nos equivocamos feo. Simplificamos la historia. Es mucho mas complicado y tuvimos que aprender una lección que resumiría: la cultura es tan determinante o mas determinante que lo material y en definitiva si no cambia la cabeza, no cambia nada."

- José Mujica en una entrevista hace unos días con Carmen Aristegui
Señal Series US Tour 
October 9th to 14th, 2016 

Señal is a chapbook series for contemporary poetry from Latin America in translation, published collaboratively by BOMB Magazine, Libros Antena Books, and Ugly Duckling Presse. 
Señal publishes two chapbooks a year, linked thematically, conceptually, or trans-historically, troubling received ideas around what the terms “contemporary” and “Latin America” might represent. (Founding Editorial Board: Monica de la Torre, Jen Hofer, Brenda Lozano, John Pluecker, Rebekah Smith, Matvei Yankelevich)

Florencia Castellano (Argentina), Luis Felipe Fabre (Mexico), & Pablo Katchadjian (Argentina), with translators Alexis Almeida, Victoria Cóccaro, John Pluecker, Rebekah Smith, & Stalina Villarreal, take to the States for a series of bilingual readings and conversations in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York:

October 8th, Oakland, CA: UDP Curated Reading at the ALTA Conference.
October 9th, San Francisco, CA: Señal at Artists' Television Access; co-sponsored by Small Press Traffic and SFSU's Poetry Center.
October 11th, Chicago, IL: Señal at The Poetry Foundation; co-sponsored by the Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature, and Art, hosted by Brenda Lozano.
October 12th, Chicago, IL: Señal Translation Discussion at Sector 2337; co-sponsored by The Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature, and Art, hosted by Daniel Borzutzky.
October 13th, New York, NY: Señal at NYU's King Juan Carlos I Center; supported by Poets & Writers.
October 14th, New York, NY: Señal at The Poetry Project; supported by Poets & Writers, the Mexican Cultural Institute of NY, & the Consulate General of Argentine Republic, NY.

WHEN YOUNG THUG exploded from Atlanta’s rap underground into national consciousness last year, there were lots of things that set him apart. There was his appearance—a 6’3″ dude in a dress is hard to miss. There was his predilection for addressing his male friends as “bae” and “hubby.” But most obvious to listeners was how hard it was to understand what he was saying. Although Young Thug’s woozy, warbling songs certainly convey his feelings, they don’t fit neatly into a rap formula focusing on intricate—or even intelligible—wordplay. 
For Young Thug and Fetty Wap and Future and Rich Homie Quan, it’s never about what these guys are saying, it’s about how they’re saying it, what they’re doing with their voices,” says Serrano. “These guys came up with a new way to talk, basically.

More here.

Say No to Voluntourism

Anyone on a flight from the United States to Haiti this summer might be struck, as I was in July, by the sheer numbers of bright-eyed, well-meaning young people heading for volunteer assignments at some of Haiti’s many orphanages, eager to help the struggling nation’s more than 30,000 institutionalized children. Sadly, despite their good intentions, volunteers at orphanages are unwittingly supporting the terrible harm that institutions afflict on children in their care. More than 80 percent of children in the world’s orphanages have at least one living parent and most have relatives. They should be at home with their families, not in institutions. What orphanage children and their parents really need is to be reunited, with all the supports and services that will enable those families - no matter how poor - to give their children what they need to thrive and reach their full potential.

The desire to engage with the world is laudable, as is the desire to volunteer. But we need to tread more carefully. Unless we have time and transferable skills, we might do better to travel, trade and spend money in developing countries. The rapid growth of "voluntourism" is like the rapid growth of the aid industry: salving our own consciences without fully examining the consequences for the people we seek to help. All too often, our heartfelt efforts to help only make matters worse.

- From The Guardian

The House Is on Fire: Race, Gentrification, Houston and the de Menil Family Legacy

On August 16, 2016, a Houston Chronicle article, “De Menil Plans Artist Enclave in Acres Homes,” detailed a new plan to build a development of fourteen single family houses for artists in Acres Homes, a historically Black neighborhood on the north side of the city. The homes would be in the $300-450,000 range, far higher than the median home price in the city in 2016: $230,000. The development is to be called NoLo Studios, a common real estate move to invent a new name that sounds like a high-rent New York City neighborhood (NoLo means North of the Loop). Though the press is new, it appears from what is available online that the efforts to develop Nolo Studios are not. 

Of course, this happens all the time: developers build new housing with stratospheric pricing in working-class Black and Brown neighborhoods around the country without engaging in dialogue with community residents. The open debate happening in Los Angeles and in other cities around the country about gentrification is uncommon here in Houston, and rarer still is a substantive and critical analysis of what is happening. Though there are occasional pieces in the local daily, weeklies, and arts and architecture press, what is missing is a vibrant and systematic analysis of this process that considers the perspectives of local residents, especially Black and Brown folks.

Keep reading at here at Entropy...
“There is now a vast amount of artistic production that is temporal, discursive and post-object centered,” writes John Roberts in Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde. And this immaterial work is “identified explicitly with a whole range of non-artistic skills and activities (scientist, ethnographer, anthropologist archivist, teacher, engineer, activist).” If we agree with Roberts’s assertion that the avant-garde is moving toward practices that don’t look much like art, then poets are uniquely positioned to participate. If avant-garde artists are trying to dematerialize their work, then poets have already done it. If the avant-garde artists want to disseminate their work freely or cheaply and outside the gallery system, poets have been doing this with self-publishing and small presses for a very long time.

There is this great and vast river called World Literature that is racing by us all. Our literature, our endless arguments about national literature…it’s like a thin stream that flows out of that grand river and ends at a tiny pond. And in that pond a group of toads are croaking and yelling at each other about the importance of that pond, the loftiness and the sanctity of the pond. All the while the great river runs on, heedless of the toads’ vain pronouncements. 

- Minsoo Kang in "Writer of a Small Country" here at Entropy.
this history that won't absolve anyone

- Dan Vera
Nomás pensar en que estaría bueno hacer una convocatoria para manifestarnos en contra de nosotros mismos, o a favor, qué sé yo, tomar las calles para cuestionarnos cuál es nuestra responsabilidad en todo esto, cómo llegamos hasta acá, porque acá estamos y estamos todos hasta el pescuezo. Pero acá estamos, y vos y yo y si es el sistema, entonces también somos vos y yo.

 - Julio Serrano aquí