Wednesday, November 5, 2014

significant otherness: person, times, changes, spirit/s


"Singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon brings her genre-bending music and irresistible performance style to Under The Radar with a work-in-progress concert of her new opera, written in collaboration with Bernice Johnson Reagon. The Parable of the Sower, adapted from Octavia Butler’s post-apocalyptic novel, follows a young woman fleeing the violence of a futuristic Los Angeles in this fable that blends science fiction with African-American spiritualism and deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization."

Tuesday, 11 November – Altar, Alter – Self, Other
• Look at artists in Pérez  Ch 3. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Read about it in Pérez.
• Read Pérez, Conclusion
• Read another chapter from the book 5 you chose.

Self and Other, Otherings of various kinds are political and power transactions with implications for social justice. Perez is interested in how people survive oppression through art and spirit, creating culture and meaning, and “politicizing spirituality.” What are the implications for intersectionality? What feminisms are vibrant here? How do your readings intertwine among art-activisms?


What stories do we tell about how change works out? 
Is the past a history of errors?
Does time enfold or stretch out or spiral and shift?
Is the future better or worse? 

UN Statistics: Millennium Indicators: Millennium Development Goals Snapshot 2014:

What would Butler's character Lauren say? Is that what Butler would say? Which are the questions, which are the answers, which are the attentions, what are the curiosities? 
Why does it matter? 

in grps of three: 
> name an issue you care about that illustrates your sense of each of the four stories about change: progress (it gets better), decline (things are getting worse), return (stuff circles around and returns), mixed (a lot goes on all the time). 

> pick examples of each of these from art works and books we have read and thought about for class. • Start with the fifth book you chose: which stories about change does it promote, or take for granted, or criticize, or otherwise engage? • Then look through Pérez and choose art works that alter/altar what we mean by any of these stories. 

"as Chicana and other Latina/o art suggest, the cultural effects of increased globalization and cultural democracy include both the restructuring of religious beliefs and practices and the birth of hybrid forms." (96)

"Amalia Mesa-Bain's altar-installations are among the earliest and the most sustained explorations of the medium, spanning from 1975 through 1997, in more than thirteen major pieces." (97)

Venus Envy Chapter I: "semiotic oscillation between altar and desk, to which are now added vanity table and laboratory....the vanity table also a theatrical space that allows for potentially expansive refashionings of identity. Like the religous altar it is a place for the care of the self, and for the accumulations of objects imbued with personal meaning. In this sense, it is an altar where reverence for theotherwise devalued, gendered self, and what if important to the self, is cultivated." (100-1)

"In [Carmen] Lomas Garza's case, popular culture-based altars, drawings, and retablo-inspired monito (ie. cartoon-like) paintings were neither naive nor natural choices for a trained artist in the 1970s. They were a conscious political choice for a young artist repeatedly exposed to discrimination against Mexican-Americans in South Texas. To combine teh visual languages of high and popular arts constituted a de facto critical reappraisal of both...." (104) [her website]

Santa Contreras Barraza "recreates the votive tradition, correctly, as a pre-Columbian legacy as much as a Christian one, by framing her exvotos through the use of Maya-like glyphs and the Mesoamerican visual conventions of the is clear the artis has restyled traditional Maya and Aztec glyphs innto new glyphs of her own.... [These works] express hybrid spiritualities thriough the culturally hybrid media of the retablo as a specifically religious art form. 
Trinity (1993), for example, refigures the cross, the Virgin, and the Christian trinity in feminist and indigenlous terms, surrounded by symbols of rebirth and fertility in nature. Although the mestiza women appear in Western guise, as contemporary women, and as the Guadalupe, they are three in one, as the barely visible hands of an outstretched body behind them suggests." (109-10)

Patricia Rodriguez
Patssi Valdez
Barbara Carrasco
Lourdes Portillo


Purity and Danger  

"The female body’s entry into the space of the artwork (be it video art, painting, photography or any other medium) is a momentous entry. Due to its being positioned in a conflictive place in the patriarchal culture, overloaded with “otherness”, the female body is spontaneously grasped as a soft platform for trial and error, drafting, kneading, squeezing, twisting, pinching, and pain. At times, this repertoire of various displays of the female body is translated into a burning protest, as in the works by Lena Liv, and Lee Yanor. Yet, at other times, owing to the over-accessibility of the body, the artist neutralizes the corporeal and transforms it into the intangible and fragile, as in the work of Jan Rauchwerger “New Studio”.

However, decoding a work of art can never be reduced to a single theoretical move. Thus, in Lee Yanor’s video art “Lullaby” the female body is positioned both as the symbolic stance representing total purity, seeking to expropriate any carnality, and, in an act that is rooted in the visual depictions of Maria in Christian tradition, the secular and a-sexual, post modern contemporary mother1, as a present day saint. The never-ending fall in Yanor’s video is not a mere effort “to break the body”, both in the perverted, Sado-Masochistic earthly sense, up to the metaphysical desire immanent in it. Equitably, the rite of infinite fall, the fall into abyss and nothingness, and then the return to life, is the simultaneous rite of both consecration and desecration."


"But when we simply call for a fight against "mass incarceration" or against the "drug war," we do this thing where we divide people into "good prisoners" and "bad prisoners." We talk about people who don't deserve to experience the violence of incarceration and people who "do deserve it." We allow ourselves to discard large numbers of people and deem them (or continue to deem them) less than human. That kind of thinking is not really landing us outside the framework of a prison nation. Plus, it creates the impression that if you end the drug war or mass incarceration or "fix" sentencing laws, you'll get rid of the problems that are actually intrinsic to the institution."  

alter/altar: artists have us 

the Other and Othering: separation & projections 
significant otherness and alterity: respect for anOther

Wikipedia "disambiguation" page (boundary objects unknotted) on Otherness:  

on Progress:  

Hanging out with theory & its people and animals: 
Haraway's "significantly other to each other" book review:

"One of the reasons that Haraway is fun to read is that she is in conversation with so many different academic fields and scholars. She brings to bear competencies in biology and the history of science, continental philosophy, feminist and Marxist theory, structuralism, semiotics, science fiction, and popular culture.... In When Species Meet, Haraway frequently rails against the doctrines of human exceptionalism in both its religious and secular forms. Her trope of “companion species” is her way of deconstructing the boundaries between human and animal, self and other. Humans and domesticated animals are coevolved, significant others to each other in complex and asymmetrical ways. The dogmas of human exceptionalism render our significant and troubled relationships with animals invisible, one-dimensional, and deceivingly simplistic."

Katie's work on SL Tranimal significant otherness, forthcoming in Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ)


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