LAB 4/20/17

Thursday, April 20 at 6:30pm
with Jaime Shearn Coan, Chitra Ganesh, Mariam Ghani, and Kaneza Schaal. 

moderated by Matthew Lyons

On April 20, we were pleased to welcome four artists to continue our exploration of the term position. Chitra Ganesh’s drawing-based practice engages her background in literature, semiotics, and social theory to reconfigure gender and power through new myth-making. In Chitra’s introductory remarks, she focused on the narrative flexibility she cultivates in her approach to the range of sources incorporated in her work–from literature and art to current events and activism. Jaime Shearn Coan is a writer, scholar, and curator working between the fields of performance and poetry. He served as the 2015-2016 Curatorial Fellow at Danspace Project and co-edited the 2016 Platform catalogue: Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now. In his remarks, he listed many poetic resonances in the term position, moving from the etymological to the phenomenological. Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, and filmmaker whose work looks at places and moments where social, political, and cultural structures take on visible forms. Mariam read from two pre-existing texts of hers spotlighting the crossroads, the border zone as a crucial position these days from which to act and resist. Kaneza Schaal is a theater artist committed to collaboration-based processes who received a 2016 Creative Capital Award to develop JACK&JILL, a multi-disciplinary project that draws on social codes and trainings from prison re-entry programs to debutante balls. In the final introductory remarks before the larger group conversation, Kaneza put forth her position as a zombie killer within undead value systems or false limitations in her field.

- Matthew Lyons

 

CHITRA GANESH
 

Hey everybody, I want to show you a few images that inform my thinking on a current project. It’s not necessarily a linear narrative but rather my thoughts regarding the question of position that we’re discussing this evening.

In my life, position has always been a liminal, protean, and a very contingent type of  space one could occupy. Growing up in New York City, position wasn’t necessarily related to identity position, but perhaps more to my relationship to space or objects or my understanding of the relation between objects and figures in space.

Something that brought me back to thinking about the terms of position and how it shifts was a long standing interest in going back to reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, which finally happened this spring. If any of you has either read it or re-read Orlando you might have experienced what I did-- encountering a reading or understanding of it as potentially utopian and transformational. It was filled with queer possibilities; there was gender bending, time travel, a oblique approach to shifting gender identifications and pronouns through history, though it may not have been named as such.

But before you even get to that, you have to traverse the very beginning of the book it’s an extremely violent first paragraph. Orlando’s story opens by showing how deeply the formative masculinity of Orlando’s youth is rooted from the outset in colonialism and its brutalities.

“He — for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it — was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. It was the colour of an old football, and more or less the shape of one, save for the sunken cheeks and a strand or two of coarse, dry hair, like the hair on a cocoanut. Orlando’s father, or perhaps his grandfather, had struck it from the shoulders of a vast Pagan who had started up under the moon in the barbarian fields of Africa; and now it swung, gently, perpetually, in the breeze which never ceased blowing through the attic rooms of the gigantic house of the lord who had slain him.” Orlando, Chapter 1, page 1.

My encounter with this text, in the context of our current political landscape, made me realize that my own position as a reader and or consumer of art or literature—had changed dramatically since I first read the book, and I became immediately aware of inhabiting multiple and contradictory frames.  Although I was hoping to take up the text and kind of mine it for its possibilities of shedding light our current moment, a confrontation with the complexity of and slippages of position combined with a carefree re-enactment of violence, made it clear that rereading for recuperation is not always possible.

My own ideas about position—and it’s so interesting that you past LABs were talking about narrative and certain other terms—come from an idea of narrative flexibility, or a way in which we can take certain narrative pieces or images and then place those differently from a different moment. A narrative logic that is based in something other than linear progression or a reliable narrator.

I read a lot of Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was growing up, I think some of you may have as well, and in these books each story has about fourteen or fifteen endings.  I feel that as artists we are, amongst other things, at a crossroads of position, and perhaps also maybe custodians of a certain kind of information. The idea of being a custodian often draws from characters in comes from prophetic literature or myth, if you think about the Cumaean Sibyl, or someone who has the ability to hold, either physically or metaphorically, certain kinds of prophecies or knowledge of the future. But the idea of mining historical narratives to reconsider the present moment at times requires an ugly confrontation with both physical and discursive violence in the text.  

This is an image of a Haitian veve invoking Papa Legba,  for the deity who represents the crossroads, and this is an image of a kolam, a South Indian ephermeral line drawing form using rice flour and water, which can also represent that is also a crossroads, or mark a threshold, among other things. In our moment, something I’ve noticed in terms of position and art institutions is how the idea of what constitutes ‘the public’ has really changed, and continues to be in flux.  In our image dominated universe, a lot of people, within and beyond the context of contemporary art, conceptualize themselves as part of a visually engaged public, withand some artists are speaking to an audience that includes a public that may not have been part of the receiving structures or populations of certain imagery, art histories, or viewing positions. You see this serious consideration of visuality’s impact very clearly in realms of political actions, strategies of protest, actually. I notice how certain kinds of interventions where a political intervention, also understands its own viability and success as contingent upon what kind resonant and enduring visual image that an act challenging state power be able to construct, recognizing that potential of image making in the political act vis-avis technology and mass media.

This image you may recognize, this is a moment when someone—Bree Newsome is her name— scaled the Confederate flagpole, and they grace and beauty of her act of civil disobedience was this image has also become allegorical, and has since been re-created with Bree in the formed of a superhero. For me the notion of allegory enables a movement from individual subjectivity to ideas, and the systems which nuture or threaten them. And in India that idea is also very interesting because the kinds of protests that happen from extremely disenfranchised populations, whose stark conditions and profound determination to challenge state abuses and neglect. In the case of these images, farmers who have been protesting anywhere   months to over 2 decades to access 40,000 rupee relief fund account (which is not even six hundred and fifty dollars by the way) that would provide assistance to thousands of farmers who might otherwise commit suicide in the face of massive debt and starvation. They creating visually resonant images like this with the knowledge that their repetition will accrue momentum for their movement. In this image farmers gather at a place in Delhi called Jantar Mantar, often used as a political commons like Union Square or Capitol Hill, where people gather to stage national protests. They are clearly understanding their intervention as theater. This is a theater. It becomes theatrical. And so do many of these images that we may not see in person, and may not be about the moment, but actually become about the way that it, challenges to power aggregrate a visual grammar, and political engagement and resistance becomes visually codified as it circulates through media. I also think in terms of crossroads about my own position, which was one of the questions we were asked, and how all our positions shift and change depending location and time.

Working in South Asia a lot, and researching there, my own position around who I am when I approach this material as well as the location’s ideas around individuality versus collectivity emerge in my research engagements. These are images from the War Liberation Museum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which I visited when Mariam Ghani and I presented Index of the Disappeared. You can see even from the structure of the way that this is laid out that individual moments—that is kind of lodged in the center there—the iconicity of certain people is actually part of a much larger kind of collective configuration. The relation between iconic individuals icons and collective action in creating revolution  is revealed through an exquisite visual balance in how the political artifacts and ephemera are installed.  In these visual equations, I saw a notion of position operating differently that it does here in the U.S. By that I mean an understanding of position as “me” and “me-centered politics” to the political that often stems from “who am I”, but here in the context of the war liberation museum, the question of position is understood here as the trajectory of who we are vis avis political systems, geographic boundaries, imperialism, and the location of class.

In thinking further about the kind of balance between individual and social context in my own figurative practice, I’ve been looking a lot at German Expressionist prints, in which the formal balance of black and white actually kind of extends and emphasizes the balance of content: of individual and city, where you see a way in which the protagonist is part of and sometimes engulfed by the kind of graphic language of the city and the two of them are intertwined. It’s not necessarily a very colorful or very stark figure against a white background, or a blank background, which is something you tend to see more would often see in contemporary portraiture, including works on paper, with a recurring emphasis on an individual figure, set against a black/white background. This is from Franz Masereel’s his work called The City, which is a wonderful work. he author gives birth to an idea and the idea is this little woman, and she runs around in an envelope, and she’s surrounded by these extremely horrified lawmakers, much like the enduring image Trump’s all white, all male team of lawmakers signing an abortion bill. And the ideas around this aspect of thee visual language of German Expressionism in the 1930s, and its possibilities for today, led me to thinking about another work that I’m working on right now, called Sultana, Dreaming which is based on a 1905 science fiction short story by a feminist writer and social reformer Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain.

The next several images are from my series of prints. So working in this kind of flexible, protean positionality, and thinking about that, allows me and us, to also delve into material that may otherwise be forgotten. In this project, which my own practice being very much rooted in figuration, I find the opportunity to think about position through ways in which the figure is constructed in and through its relations to the city, urban space, and new technologies. And to see how these positions articulate themselves visually in terms of the balance black and white, and how graphic elements occupy the space of a page.

Some of the research I’ve done for this also makes me think about the moment of of intense cultural amnesia repetition of violence and trauma that we find ourselves in during the beginnings of a Trump Presidency. This is a map that was made at the end of January in 1917, and it was part of the Asian Exclusion Act. Much like the Muslim travel ban bill, this is the region that was excluded in that act.  Exactly one hundred years ago something very similar was signed, and countries that are not included in this were just not part of Asia as we understand it today, or were already included in it. So I’m interested in the relationship between the individual and the social, and ways in which the proliferation of images through technology can bring us to a place that’s more contextual, at times disturbingly cyclical, and more about a broader sense of location, rather than to an understanding of our worlds that move beyond an exploration of individual subjectivity.

Chitra Ganesh,  Her Nuclear Waters , 2013. 

Chitra Ganesh, Her Nuclear Waters, 2013. 

 

JAIME SHEARN COAN


25 Propositions for “Position”

 

1.      A position is never entirely still—like Paxton’s small dance, it has breath & shifts of weight.

2.      A position requires aligning with a pre-arranged form.

3.      A position should be held gently.

4.      A position is the accumulation of every moment into this one.

5.      A position is who you are facing and who your back is to.

6.      A position can shatter.

7.      “Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering a text from a
          new critical direction—is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of
          survival.”[i]

8.       A position needs a field to figure itself.

9.       A vague or neutral position creates false security.

10.     Positions are paid or unpaid.

11.     To position (verb): What if you don’t want to be located? What if you can’t locate
           yourself?

12.     A position is a pause in the continuum of relationality.

13.     An intercorporeal position: “The world: never./Never his hands//forcing your back/to
         follow it’s own//arc; muscle looser/under thrust” [ii]

14.     A position may be released.

15.     Stating a position is non-performative, it doesn’t do anything. [iii]

16.     To “take” a position—from who or what?

17.     Position as proximity to power and domination.

18.     From one position, it is possible to look back and see previously held positions.

19.     Position as preposition: of, from, with, among, between, through.

20.     “Identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position
          ourselves within, the narratives of the past.” [iv]

21.     Is the arrival to a position valued over the travel it took to get there?

22.     How is an “I” position different than a “we” position?

23.     A position is constituted through the position/s of others.

24.     A position is “always lightly touched: revealing itself beside, always beside.” [v]

25.     Our position is the angle of my body, and then your body, to this page.

 

 

[i] Rich, Adrienne. (1972) “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.” College English 34: 1, 18.

[ii] Teare, Brian. (2010) “Elegaic Action: To Fuck.” Pleasure. Boise: Ahsahta Press, 59.

[iii] Hall, Stuart. ([1990] 1994) “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Columbia University Press, 394.

[iv] Adapted from: Ahmed, Sara. “The Phenomenology of Whiteness.” (2007) Feminist Theory 8: 2, 149–168. 

[v] Nancy, Jean-Luc. (2000) Being Singular Plural. Trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 7.

 

MARIAM GHANI

 

1. Extract from “Through the Screen: Notes to Permanent Transit” (2002)

 

To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads.
 --- Gloria Anzaldua[1]

 

The difficult position of the first generation born in the new country after immigration, exile, or expatriation is to embody the crossroads where different cultures meet to negotiate their claims–not on geopolitical territories but on the minute events, actions, and reactions of our everyday lives. We are compromised bodies; hearing one language with one ear and another with the other, we are equipped to understand only half of what’s said everywhere we go.

 

When I began shooting Permanent Transit in May of 2001, I was in search of a political identity to anchor my self-imposed wanderings through the homes available to me on three continents. I hoped that somewhere–hidden behind the sandbags of the West Bank, or glimpsed through the south fences of Lebanon, or felt as a shudder crossing the invisible line between East and West that lurks somewhere in Istanbul–would be the name of my true home. Finally, I would receive the instructions detailing once and for all where my allegiance should lie, and I would be able to relax in the knowledge that I had found the place where I was most easily and absolutely myself. But after three months of experience filtered through the camera, I had to admit that I had found that elusive home only temporarily, in the transient moments of interconnectedness felt in the process–not the destinations–of my travels.

 

In the realm of culture, outsideness is a powerful factor in understanding...
[because] a meaning only reveals its depths once it has encountered
and come into contact with another, foreign meaning: they engage in a
kind of dialogue, which surmounts the closedness and one-sidedness of
these particular meanings, these cultures.
 --- M.M. Bakhtin[2]

 

In retrospect I’m not surprised that my most intense and sincere moments of engagement with, awareness of, and comfort in my environment occurred when I was in transit from one stop of my journey to another. I’ve seen at first- and second-hand how nationalist movements eat their young and wring out their women; when the politics of identity become the politics of statehood, I grow uneasy. Even as the colonizing gaze pins me like a specimen to a background of unrelenting flatness, my eyes are moving to the next view, the one through the window on the opposite wall; my ears are straining to detect through the glass the murmurings of other lives on the other side. Maybe that’s why the first time I read Bakhtin’s theory of the importance of outsideness in cultural dialogue was also the first time I could imagine my own potential cultural production to be of any significance.

 

The perpetual position of estranged intimate, or familiar stranger, is both the best and worst thing about being a crossroads: you feel both sides. So how can you choose? No wonder I feel most at home in the interstitial spaces of airplanes, train stations, borrowed cars, temporary rooms, movie theaters and conference centers–as long as I can see far enough through the window/screen to imagine my next frame of reference.

 

[1] Gloria Anzaluda, Borderlands/La Frontera : The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987) p. 195.

[2] M.M. Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee, ed. Caryl Emerson & Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986) pp. 6-7.

 

 

2. Extract from “New World Borders” (2005) – published as Index of the Disappeared's contribution to Common Possibilities, ed. Anthony Marcellini

 

Imagine yourself the cartographer of a “brave new world.” How would you draw your map? Would you reproduce, redistribute, or erase existing borders? Does a utopian project aspire to a borderless state, open to refugees and migrants from other communities, or cherish the borders that separate its “ideal society” from societies characterized as less than ideal?

 

Our current perspective suggests that the elision of borders does not untangle the questions of migration, nor solve the larger problems that motivate both forced and economic migrants to relocate. In the new “Fortress Europa,” for example, we find a community of European nations whose mutual agreements structure a series of borders more permeable than ever before, but only for those few defined as acceptable members of that community.i In North American, Pan-American, and WTO trade agreements, we see a very specific set of rules formulated to shuttle consumables from their origins to their consumers, which effectively funnel resources from the least to the most powerful.ii In failed, failing and fragile states across the world, including the United States itself in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we can track the desperate movements of internal refugees, displaced and dispossessed without ever crossing a national border.iii And within our particular circle of interest, the policies affecting immigrants in the USA, we hear story after story exemplifying the peculiarly vulnerable position of the stateless in the cycle of detention and deportation; those who cannot be “repatriated” because they have no (officially recognized/administered) homeland to return to can be indefinitely held in our immigration prisons, where everyone who arrives is considered a risk to national security until proven otherwise.iv

 

If the borderless world seems like less than a dream, how then should we dream the border? We begin by considering the border neither as a simple “line in the sand” drawn to demarcate the furthermost edges of a nation-state, delineating its exit and entry points, nor as the increasingly (re)current militarized model of border, a protective armature securing a territory from invasion. Instead, we conceive the border as a complex network of relations between places, communities, and companies both nearby and far-flung. This border is the medium through which pass flows not only of people but also of capital, resources, energy, ideas, products, power and influence. In this mode of analysis, our discussion of an existing border like that between the US-Mexico not only encompasses the current political debate on keeping the “undesirable” southern neighbors from crossing north (with all the attendant security fences, unmanned aerial vehicles, and tacit license for freelance vigilantism), v but also examines the history of that border, the geopolitical shifts it has undergone over the centuries, how California and other border US states were once and in some ways will always be Mexican. We also consider the present of the NAFTA-enabled schemes whereby US corporations shift their production facilities south into the virtual no-mans-lands of “free trade zones” and maquiladora company towns like Ciudad Juarez, keeping up with the US demand for cheaper products by moving jobs to a place where labor is also cheap.vi We map the relationship of the hard geopolitical (international) border to the multitude of soft (economic, social, cultural, and intranational) borders dependent on it. And we do not overlook the various pipelines and trafficking networks that bring people, goods and resources from all over the region to the US through the border with Mexico.

 

Rather than imagining a borderless world, which would allow an even more free flow of capital and resources from the powerless to the powerful, we need to reposition existing borders as productively precarious: zones where contingent, conflicted, critical and contestational positions can be produced. Staking out our place on the border allows us to engage two directions at once: north and south, east and west, oppression and resistance, past and future. Around the border, any border, the fears and hopes, friends and enemies, corruptions and crises of a nation-state and its imagined community are clearly marked and understood. No matter how many fences are erected or walls built up, the architecture of a border is inherently porous; it always preserves some measure of transparency. We can and should look not just at borders, but through them–playing on the power of the border to filter and frame ideas as well as people and territory. The border, perpetually susceptible, is always a site of potential resistance.

 

i For an extended discussion of the Schengen agreement and definitions of “extra-communitarian” persons in the European Community, see Maribel Casas-Cortes and Sebastian Cobarrubias, “Drawing Escape Tunnels Through Borders,” An Atlas of Radical Cartography (Los Angeles: Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Press, 2007) pp 57-63.

ii On NAFTA, see http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/factsheets/NAFTA.asp and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch resource at http://www.citizen.org/trade/nafta/. On the proposed FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) see http://www.ftaa-alca.org/ and http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/ftaa/. On GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and the WTO (World Trade Organization) see http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/whatis_e.htm and http://www.citizen.org/trade/wto/.

iii For definitions and statistics on “internally displaced persons” see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internally_displaced_person.

iv Current (2005) immigration policies in the US, UK, Europe and Australia have instituted mandatory detention for asylum seekers until their cases have been reviewed and decided, which can take anywhere from a few months to several years and often results not in the offering of asylum but the deportation of the asylum seeker to their country of origin. (While most of the laws in effect provide for “humanitarian parole” from mandatory detention, this parole is granted only in a very few cases.) For stateless migrants and asylum seekers marked for deportation, the result is “indefinite detention” as the deporting country endeavors to contract another state to accept the “return” of the rejected refugee. Palestinians are most likely to fall into this immigration limbo. Notable examples include Ahmed Ali-Kateb in Australia and Mohammed Bachir in the US.

v For an example of this discourse see President Bush’s November 2005 speech on border security and immigration reform in Arizona, archived at http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/speeches/speech_0263.shtm.

vi AFSC’s The Maquiladora Reader: Cross-Border Activism Since NAFTA, published in 1999, provides the following definition of maquiladoras: The maquiladoras—foreign-owned assembly plants clustered along the Mexico-U.S. border—are one manifestation of a worldwide trend in which industrial production is concentrated in areas of the world with an abundant supply of low-wage labor. Also known as “export-processing” plants, such factories operate in economic enclaves or “free-trade zones” with relatively little interrelationship with the economies of their host countries. Capital investment, upper management, and even supplies and components are brought in from outside, and products are likewise destined for foreign markets. For more information on maquiladoras and Ciudad Juarez, see http://www.afsc.org/mexico-usborder/learnabout.htm

 

KANEZA SCHAAL

 

I’ve been thinking about zombies. I’ve been thinking about zombies as these dead, tired, old ideas, and policies that resurrect and come back for blood. And a lot of the positioning that I state or choose in the world relates to cultivating fertile ground for killing zombies. I think part of why I started directing theater is because it’s hard, as a performer, to kill zombies. You can really mess up their days, but it’s hard to actually kill them. Directing is a place where I can have a more direct attack. I call what I make theater, which is also a position that I choose in relation to zombie killing. I would be just as happy calling it sculpture or performance, but it’s important to me to place what I make in the tradition of experimental performance and of American avant-garde theater, which so often imagines itself as apolitical, as an apolitical form.

I’m working on a new piece right now that is considering reentry to society after prison, with some collaborators with whom I have worked for a few years now. At first we were thinking about the performance demands of being in prison, how those languages are stored in the body, and how they then continue to affect the process of reentering society. Now we’re shifting our thinking and researching towards internal life and dreaming, so not the time someone has served but the measure of one’s dreaming that is given to the state. When we tell people that our project considers prison and reentry to society, there is an aesthetic mapping onto the work,  a positioning of the piece, an imagination of it, of what it will look like to erect a social practice performance: a kind of personal narrative reportage drama, a guy on a chair, sitting on a stool, telling you about life’s lessons. That is relatively harmless in a conversation with someone. Perhaps  in some way I perversely delight in that, in this potential position some audience members may bring, which becomes a material I can address in the work. However, institutionally, when in conversation with houses for art or venues, this aesthetic mapping onto the project is lethal, and is a sister zombie to the imagination of an apolitical art form.

I was recently in a meeting with a luminary institution who that told me that they didn’t have the resources to support the social justice impulse of my work. That they didn’t have access to the kind of constituents or stakeholders in the project for audience members. I hear this language thrown around frequently: this spectrum between artistic excellence and inclusion, as if somehow that’s a dichotomous proposition. I don’t know if that exists in the worlds of the other artists here but that is language that’s out there around performance, which is a crazy zombie to be alive again. That zombie has been put to rest so many times, but there it was fully resurrected in this meeting. I am not including people from different experiential, creative, and cultural backgrounds in my work because I’m a nice person. I do that because I believe that great storytelling requires speaking many languages, and that inclusion is a pursuit of artistic excellence, fundamentally a pursuit of artistic excellence. Social practice and artistic practice are inextricably linked for me. The social justice impulse of the work is a creative impulse, and holding multiple positions, that simultaneity, or the necessary shifting landscapes of those positions as an artist are what kills zombies. What enables zombies to live is not being able to hold two things in your mind at the same time–to inhabit the crossroads in order to occupy multiple positions as Maryam described. 

So I’ve been thinking about zombie killing and about how holding many positions is fertile ground for their execution.

 

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

 

MATTHEW LYONS:  Thank you, everyone.

 

MARIAM GHANI:  Where should we start?

 

ML: Does anybody in the audience have anything right off the bat?

 

MG: Does anyone have a burning question out there? 

 

ML: I wanted to ask, specifically in relation to what Kaneza was just saying about form in theater and then going back to what Chitra started with about images and the relationship between images and text, about Kaneza’s adherence to the word theater, and this push and pull that may be a formal one between image and textuality and how that resonates with you and how you're making work today. I wonder about if that's something that you think about.

 

KANEZA SCHAAL: Yeah, that's Christopher Myers who works as a design collaborator sometimes, and I've been thinking a bit about how I position my collaborators which is actually a kind of dramaturgy and creating a collective dramaturgy. More and more I'm having an interest in experiential diversity in the work and that becomes the foundation for this kind of expansive dramaturgical lexicon that is placing the work in different formal traditions and histories, because you have people who call what they make music or who call what they make sculpture working altogether. So you're are also accessing many, many more kinds of history to place the work in, because of the vastness of the collective, experiential, dramaturgical brain that you're developing altogether. So I guess that's more and more how I'm thinking about image and text and the integration of all of these things.  An example would be: when I was seven years old, maybe seven and a half, I came to New York. I was raised in Northern California, and my father was a squatter in the East Village and I would visit him every other year or so. One night he had made peanut stew and then he kind of disappeared and didn't come back for way too long. His brother, who was also squatting in the building, came downstairs and said to me, “Hey, get on your coat. We're going to go downtown.” This was late at night for me–10 p.m. or something. So we went downtown to the police station and, without ever saying that my father had been arrested, I was put in a particular position in this scenario, because my uncle had an extremely strong accent and I was being raised by righteous, indignant puritans who trained me how to deal with bureaucracy. So I was put forward, with my American English, to navigate this bureaucratic situation and find out where my father was and what had happened, but by the time we actually got to the courtroom where he was being held, he had been released. So this was an experience of shame and betrayal and anger that I had around my father being arrested–which was just a horrifying proposition for me at that age and in that position.  So that's one of these histories in the room when I’m working. Then I'm working with these guys who've done hard time–like three decades' hard time–for shit that they did, for really bad things that they did. And I can get as indignant as I want on the telephone with this presenter or that presenter about how dare you not let us work with your educational program, or say that your lawyers have advised that we shouldn't work with you. That's outrageous. And then, at the same time, there is that tendency towards a kind of “there but for the grace of God go I” mentality around these histories. Or maybe it's better described as a kind of “Oh, the structural injustices!” And yes, “Oh, the structural injustices!”, but also the choices that were made. My collaborators will be the first to say there are kids who grew up the way I did who didn't make the choices that I made. So how do we then collectively create this dramaturgical complexity around the ideas and have that become the most fertile bed for positioning ourself to ask these questions?

 

ML: It sounds a little bit like what you were saying about creating one's own discourse. You are creating your own dramaturgical discourse that then sets up a space where you can play with form once that has been laid out.

 

KS: Yes, how you create your own logics to deal with images and think about text together.

 

MG: What Kaneza is saying makes me think of a conversation Chitra and I had fairly early on in our collaboration on Index of the Disappeared, which was about how to deal with certain individual narratives that we were tracking on immigrants who were caught up in the detention/deportation system, and then later we expanded the project to look at people who were caught up in rendition, in the black sites, in Guantanamo, and so on. So we were dealing with the stories of people who both did bad things and had very bad things done to them, right? One of the things that we talked about a lot was this binary of guilt and innocence on which so much of the legal system is built. We realized that the binary between those two positions, whether you were guilty or you were innocent, was actually completely useless to us in our project, and we wanted to really just put that right out of any discussion in or around the project. We are totally uninterested in discussions of guilt or innocence. We want to have a much, much, much more complicated conversation.  And so if, right from the outset, we say we are not interested in whether these people are guilty or innocent, and we don't care who's guilty and who's innocent, that is not what we are talking about here, right?  We're talking about a system. We're talking about structures, so whether an individual in this system is guilty or is innocent to us is immaterial to our discussion of this larger system and also in many ways to our thinking around the narrative through which they're traveling, right? Because, in many ways, that question does not affect so many parts of that narrative through which they travel. Like so many parts of it, actually the question becomes immaterial very early on, right? That was something that we talked about a lot.

 

CG: Yes, and I think luckily it doesn't affect–I mean, it may affect legal discourse in a different way, or a philosophical discourse because it's based on certain kind of logical moves, but in terms of art or literature, there are ways in which we can hold it or bypass it or think with it that, I think, are interesting. In terms of the relationship between image and text, I was very surprised to find that these images of the wordless novels [of the German Expressionist prints] were actually inspired by illuminated manuscripts. I would have never understood that because they feel formally like they are completely the opposite of each other, but that dissonance and that kind of closeness of how a certain visual language crowds a page is in fact, compositionally, not that divergent from this. There’s this crowding and a kind of contingency of all of the different parts of it that make sense. So I feel like it's more of a structural issue that we're thinking about, rather than putting things within certain formal, identitarian boxes.

 

MG: I really love this image because it also make me think of Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis and the whole idea of city symphony films that was happening around the same time. It is so unusual in the European tradition actually, this really collective portrait, this idea of making a portrait of a community, which you really were seeing in the '20s in this particular way, and in the German context you have these, you have the city symphony films, and then you also have, in the same decade, the anti-Grimm fairy tales. The Communist and Socialist fairy tales which are also trying to promote a really different approach to identity. So instead of a lone individual battling against some threat to the community from outside the village, it's all about something that brings the whole community together or that betters the community or that topples a corrupt monarch, putting forward different ideas about what the position of an individual within a society could be and trying to counter with what the parties saw as the really pernicious influence of the Grimm fairy tales.

 

CG: Yes, and these very pronounced differences are often staked across national borders. When MARYAM was reading and also when Jaime was reading, a lot of those kinds of borders and boundaries could be our cognates to a process of gentrification. You don't need to be of a different national origin or have a collision of borders to experience this kind of extremely aggressive or violent collision of two different positions, you know?  I think that's more around class and urbanization–things that we don't talk about as much in America, that people talk about a lot more in the rest of the world.

 

JAIME SHEARN COAN: I had a thought, Kaneza, listening to you talk about the dramaturgical approach.  It's really exciting, and I was also thinking about this kind of friction in meetings with producers and presenters. I notice, since the election of Trump, there's been a lot of this talk of “what do we do now” and there's this movement to establish safe spaces in theaters and I did notice that on a lot of websites there are new statements of commitment to various things, and I'm just wondering if there can be more collaborative dramaturgical approaches to actually think together and to not separate out the creative process and the operative process, to actually think about really shifting things. Because I totally appreciate the cyclical thing; let's not have cultural amnesia. But I think there is an impetus on the behalf of some organizations, at least in the performance world, but I'm thinking also of the Whitney fracas that just happened, that perhaps there is some room opening up and how can artists get in there.

 

KS: It makes me think more about the way that I keep hearing artistic excellence get positioned as code for white supremacist art. You know what I mean?

 

JSC: Yeah.

 

KS: And that scares me, because...

 

CG: Or feathers-unruffled art.

 

KS: Yeah.

 

CG: The feathers kind of...

 

KS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Down and smoothed and oiled and...

 

CG: Oil-the-feathers art.

 

KS: And I guess it feels more like the problem is that artistic excellence was never the conversation. I'm a little terrified to say this when there's a camera in the room. I am not involved in that Whitney conversation. I really haven't been paying attention. But from the little outside position where I stand on it, it just doesn't seem like a very interesting piece of art. Make better art feels like the issue to me. Of all things, make better art. And so with this sense that artistic excellence was never on the table, the idea is not drop artistic excellence. That isn't what makes something–oh God, these words–inclusionary. For example, the year Michael Jackson dropped the album "Bad" and Prince dropped “Sign ‘o’ the Times”, U2, bless their brilliant souls, won the Grammys, right? And so the conversation has never been about artistic excellence, but let us not take it off the table. Let us not lose "Bad" or lose the other albums and art that inspire and enliven our lives.

 

CG: But it is interesting just that the conversation is on the table, for better or worse, because more than the Grammys was the acknowledgment of Adele about her position and where she was in the Grammys and doing this whole...

 

MG: The performance of white guilt?

 

CG: Yes, the performance of white guilt, the performance of history. So it's interesting. I mean, I don't think it's better or worse but I took note.

 

MG: I do think what is different now, and this again goes back to the prompt actually, I think that the events and the policies and the propositions that are coming from our government right now are not new but the audience is actually responding differently. So I actually do think, especially in our kind of cultural sector, there's been a really different response now than there was in 2001 when there was a brief wave of political exhibitions in a small segment of the art world and then that just completely sort of flitted away. I think the energy is very different now and the panic of the energy is much more intense. And I actually do think it can be capitalized on and built from, and that is something I've really been thinking a lot about and working on. I think this is a really good moment to think about what it means for art institutions to be part of the public sphere. What does that actually mean? Because we're supposed to be part of the public sphere but most of the time we're only part of our own public sphere, not a larger public sphere, right?

 

CG: And just the idea of the public has de facto and forcibly changed in that all of these other people and viewers and constituencies are part of the public, and so they impact the reception of an artwork even in a biennial or in whatever, and I think that part is actually different. Who considers themselves the public? Even if it's the farmers shaving their heads in protest because they know that it's going to be on TV and they know that that TV is going to be on around the world. I think that is actually significant.

 

KS: That excites me too. How, as makers, do we get to the same kind of multiplicity or to that shifting position that we afford ourselves, how do we afford that to our audiences, or invite our audiences into that multiplicity or fluidity as well? The last piece that I made I did here in New York and then I did it at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda. And I was confronted, as someone who makes work that I want to speak to many different people because it speaks many languages, but part of that is taking on the confrontation of the assumptions that I bring to the table, or where I pigeonhole an audience in what I'm making. So in this piece there was this moment that we painfully crafted over many weeks of an actor very quietly speaking into a mic and how much did the mic control it, how much did the actor control it, and this gradual increase in volume. And that moment came (and it was in a big amphitheater, about a thousand people) and there was this tittering all of a sudden. People were standing up as this quiet moment was playing out, and I was looking around thinking, “What's going on?” But people were getting up to help us fix the microphone, because there's this assumption of technological consistency that is part of the foundation of how that moment got developed. So I'm excited about joyfully and fully trying to embrace my own assumptions and contradictions in what I'm making so that I create work that invites an audience to have that multiplicity that we're talking about for ourselves.

 

ML: Narrative flexibility.

 

CG: That's definitely something that many of us have to do. I mean, regardless of where your point of location is or your position is, just your work, one's work disseminating into different kinds of sociopolitical, cultural spheres, much less ones that you may have a relation to. For example, Mariam has a big contingency and audience in the way that she engages her work in Europe and the subcontinent that's very different from here. And I would say that that's probably true of all of us, in the sense that nobody's work will get read in one primary way.

 

MG: I had an interesting experience recently with the two-channel video that I made for dOCUMENTA (13) which was half filmed in Kabul and half filmed in Kassel. I was in Kabul in January and went to visit the ruined palace that I had filmed in because it's actually being restored. So I went to see how the restoration was going, and I met with this entire team of young architects and engineers who were working on the restoration, and they said to me, “We've all seen your film. It was really helpful.” So they had watched it actually as sort of a primer on the history of the building.

 

CG: How to restore the building?!

 

MG: And as a kind of an initial introduction to the building. Which is actually super cool to me, but totally not intended, but really cool. I had a similar experience with Afghanistan: A Lexicon*, which is an art book that was made as part of the Notebook Series for dOCUMENTA (13) and now it's being used to teach area studies, even though it has an asterisk on the front page that says “*selective; associative; may include myth, speculation and rumor as well as facts.” It literally says that on the first page.

 

CG: That’s so funny. You know what I was just thinking of, very randomly and differently? "The Golden Girls" That was something I watched with a particular valiance, and my family also watched in a way that they really enjoyed. And I realized that they enjoyed this kind of intergenerational, parental, caregiving comedy part of it, while I was having a gay moment with the whole thing. So I'm just thinking of how unexpectedly certain works that we think might have a very ubiquitous, frontal value, which is the primary way of relaying meaning, could actually sort of diverge and splinter in a way.

 

MG: The Stuart Hall quote that Jaime brought up, which I think was something like “identity is the name that we give to our positions and the narratives of the past,” is making me think about something that people kept bringing up during our Radical Archives Conference, which is Kevin Young's notion from the Grey Album of reading for the shadows of history and who has to do that and why; if you are part of a group of people who has been marginalized from official history or whose history has been repressed or who has always been basically the loser in the war, or for whatever reason, if your story is not in history, the only place you're going to find it in the official narratives of history is in between the lines or in the shadows cast by the words on the page, not in those words themselves, right? Where is your position in that narrative if it's actually like outside it?

 

JSC: Imagination also really comes in handy too. It's creating it.

 

MG: I also like this question that Jaime asked, which is what if you don't want to be located or to locate yourself? 

 

CG: That's something very interesting because if you travel, like at least for myself, when you're in New York specifically or in the US, how your introduction happens is you get introduced by what you do. “This is so-and-so, she was working with this company, she got this award, she showed at this place.” In 90 percent else of the world, it's where you're from. 

 

MG: Or who your family is.

 

CG: Or who your family is, which is where you're from.

 

MG: Yeah.

 

CG: So even if you don't want to be located, it happens. And that's also something that's very interesting, depending on where you're from or where all of you're people are from. For me, I'm from a very hegemonic position within India. I'm upper caste and Hindu and just many things that are very legible. So the friction or the kind of fissure between that and the level to which a lot of things that are not within a black/white matrix don't get read here is quite stark. I think it's also dependent on that geography and alignment of power and whether you came from the dominant tribe or the dominant caste or group or not. At the same time, my family came from a dominant group, but people who immigrate generally are people who couldn't get what they needed if they were there, which is all of us. I mean, if people could be ruling class, why would they leave? 

 

MG: Although there are also cycles. There are civil wars and conflicts, and people who were dominant aren't dominant and then they're dominant again.

 

CG: Yeah, there are all those shifts within that too.

 

MG: Things pass; they go in waves sometimes. People immigrate and then the tides turn and they go back.  That does happen. In many parts of the world you're defined so much by your position within kinship relations, while in many cities in the United States, the first question you're asked is, “Where did you go to school?” And they don't mean college; they mean high school. Which is another way of asking your class, and you're defined so much by your class in so many cities.

 

CG: Even though class is never talked about. It's interesting because we're positioned and sometimes lucky to live in a place where we are given a certain access to upward mobility, you know?

 

ML: Occupying this borderline position in the current situation, do you find a new way that you are juggling non-art and art lives, shifting or keeping this kind of malleable borderline position in this presidency?

 

MG: Well, I think I too may be a difference audience this time around, having lived through these events or these sorts of policies and propositions in a very intense way during the period of 2001 to 2005 in particular, when I was very involved in immigrant rights activism and when we were first starting Index of the Disappeared in 2004. At that stage of the project it was very much about the domestic immigration situation and these waves of deportations, and we were doing a lot of detention center site visits and we were in constant conversation with immigrant rights activists and groups and with immigrants in these centers and asylum seekers. I mean, we were really, really in it, super in the thick of it at the time, and so I was living it in a very close way, a very intimate kind of way. And at the same time I was living the global war on terror in a particularly intimate and familiar way because my parents had moved back to Afghanistan and so that was also really a very different relationship to it than I think a lot of people had. So having gone through all of that, I’ve come to a really different understanding of all of these things through these many, many years of working on the Index of the Disappeared, tracing and archiving all the connections between these different policies and their human costs, between the ways in which US policy has changed in the wake of 9/11 and the ways in the law has changed, the ways in which the military codes of conduct have changed, the ways in which these policies which were developed overseas have then come back to reverberate in domestic policing, in domestic prisons. Having really gained a much bigger-picture kind of understanding of all of this, I am not the same audience. I don't bring the same understanding to it that I had at the time, which was a really ground-level understanding of it, as in this is happening right now to these people who I know. Instead I'm looking at it as if I'm looking at a giant map, you know? Yeah, it feels really different. And so, I think because of that, I'm positioning myself differently within it and instead of responding to things in this kind of immediate crisis mode, I'm thinking, “how can I do something that only I can do?” instead of “What can I do that everyone else is also doing?”

 

CG: That you can add.

 

MG: That I can add myself to, that I can aggregate my voice to. I am doing some of that, but mostly I was trying to think what can I do that is not yet being done or that I can do in some way differently from anyone else, and that's what I tried to figure out. And that's what this new project that I'm working on, the network of museums as public spaces, came out of, which is trying to get art institutions to think about what it means to actually be civically engaged.

 

CG: Everything she said. Well, not everything she said but 80 percent of what she said, because she's really the one doing that network of national museums in a very amazing and particular way, but I think for me time is another kind of marker of positionality. So, in some of the ways that Maryam talked about, the thing I'm trying to negotiate, in between everything else I'm doing, is how to have my gay middle age. And that's something very different because at this moment being this age and being politically active in this very urgent way reminds me that when I was younger those people were harder to access because they were caught up and kind of erased in the AIDS crisis and just neglected. So I feel that I'm in a position where I'm thinking about how different my position is from the people of my generation before me. For instance, I had an intern from Cooper Union who is 21 and she is South Asian from Long Island, and her parents are my age. They got together in high school and eloped. So for me, I'm 42, and I'm not going to have kids, but there's a whole other generation of people who are in this kind of interstitial space that make me re-evaluate my own position and make me think about things that are completely related too but on the surface of, outside of the purview of politics, even though those absences and things were what I came into this space seeking in the first place. So the idea of being someone who has seen multiple generations of something happen is not the kind of elder that I have access to.

 

MG: In the same way that there wasn't necessarily the critical discourse that we wanted when we first sort of emerged into the art world. There was not a total absence, but certainly the mentors that we wanted were also somewhat scarce on the ground, although the ones that we found were amazing and powerful in our lives. 

 

CG: And like many young people we probably like compelled them…

 

MG: Possibly. Quite possibly.

 

CG: ...to be our mentors. Compelled them into participation.

 

MG: If we're judging from what's happening to us now, yes, probably. But because of that we do feel a responsibility in our teaching, and that is another position that many of us share, but we feel a responsibility as teachers to be those people, to be those sorts of models or examples or mentors. I mean, these are all really difficult words, actually, in a way, but to be there and to be somewhat accessible, within our capacity, to the students who are coming up and who may feel that same kind of feeling that we had, right?

 

CG: Yeah.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Could I ask you to build on that a little bit? For me, in my life, I have to negotiate my positions as an educator and an activist and an artist and all these things, and so a big part of my time is spent thinking about myself as an educator and being in a certain system, which is the public school system, with all the things that are happening within that system and particularly lately really feeling the clamp down of what discourse is now acceptable in my public school realm. I would love to hear you all talk about your role, your position, as educators. Mariam talked about what does it mean to be civically engaged, and it seems like all of you, from your bios read in the beginning, are educators in some way. You haven't really talked about that, but Mariam just kind of opened the door. And I'd love to hear you kind of ruminate on that, where you see yourself in this moment, this political moment, in terms of that positionality.

 

KS: I work with young people.  I often work with high school students. That's who I like to work with most. Sometimes I work with college kids. But high school is...

 

CG: The best, the best, the best.

 

KS: Yeah.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: I'm also a high school teacher.

 

KS: Woohoo!

 

AUDIENE MEMBER 1: It's rough right now.

 

KS: I mean, it's God's work. I feel like the entrance point for how I ended up in New York and in art worlds was a product of what I had learned, was a product of the words on the page, and I was sniffing around the shadows but it took me a while before I found mentors, people who could talk to me about the archive that is in between the words that I was receiving on the page. And now with young people–because they come for you, they find you, wherever it is they come–I try, to the best of my ability, to hold some of that archive in the shadows with them. To take a little flashlight and look at it together and kind of help them think about the many entry points that they could have into this big art world so that it doesn't have to be the words on the page that help you navigate your entry point.  So something about holding flashlights together in the dark, in those shadows and just freaking talking to kids. I work in a school, actually through The Kitchen. The Kitchen has an incredible program in Chelsea at...

 

CG: The Liberty School?

 

KS: ... Liberty.

 

CG: I love the Liberty School.

 

KS: It's so good.

 

CG: I was there for MoMA. They're so awesome.

 

KS: So there the prerequisite is that you haven't been in the country for more than six months. So it's immigrant kids from every corner of the world. And even in that context, negotiating how to actually just open up conversations and speak to each other…there is so little space for that and little faith or understanding of what kids are actually thinking about. I feel that simply holding space for kids to speak to each other about whatever they are processing right now, the tremendous value and power and absence of that cannot be underestimated. 

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: No one asks them. Institutions don’t ask them.

 

KS: No, they're not invited. It's kind of mind blowing. 

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Yeah, yeah. Talking about institutional practice and all these things, the Whitney and all these big institutions, what about those interstitial spaces where activism and art and all those things…how are those things being fostered and how do you all think about those spaces that are not the big institutional spaces?

 

CG: That are not those spaces?

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Yeah, that are not. How is that being grown, if it's being grown, and how do you all think about it? It seems like all of you are talking about these interstitial, crossroad, borderline, shadowlands, brackish areas. Where are those things now for youth and where are those things where students are being heard and promoted to do stuff? Does that make sense?

JSC: I was working at Danspace last year doing the Lost & Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now platform that was based on not just looking back at the AIDS crisis in the East Village but also trying to create dialogue between generations and to have the older people listen to what's going on now around HIV and AIDS and also just around queer life. Some of the panels that we had were really, really inspiring. It was a range of activists and artists, and I think it opened up, kind of what you're saying, it let there be space for people to talk to each other. And in this case, maybe people who take up a little bit more space, some of them, but to hear each other as well, I guess, and I think that it was the meeting ground in particular of the Danspace audience, the CUNY audience, and then the downtown artists and random people who walked in that allowed that to happen. So it's all these different bacterias coming together. And I feel intergenerational dialogue is so needed everywhere. I find that with my students also, although they don't see me as a different generation than them. But I am. As part of my job, I have to teach Introduction to Writing about Literature, which is not that exciting, but I just try to trick them into thinking that I'm teaching Introduction to Writing about Literature, but I'm actually teaching Introduction to being a person in the world to your full capacity.

CG: Yeah!

 

MG: That's kind of what we're always teaching.

 

CG: I know, and in that way I feel that even these kind of high-end, venerated institutional spaces don't have a sort of unilateral way of belonging to even encourage that. You don't have to all kind of huddle and be herded. You can also negotiate some agency in the way you look. I mean, all of those things, I think, are just as important, as also introducing people to movements and conversations and propositions that they wouldn't see in a museum space. When I worked at the MoMA my students would say, “I understood what you were trying to do, but when you paired Janet Cardiff and Yinka Shonibare, that was terrible. That's absolutely terrible.” I told them, “Oh, okay. I'll listen to you.” Then they told why this doesn't work and were constantly giving feedback on the fourth and fifth floor of MoMA, which is probably one of the most venerated institutional spaces, and I think allowing that occupation of the space with their body or their criticality is important.

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Listening to a lot of you all, a lot of what you are talking about is that kind of positionality of where you are and coming from cultures and being imbedded in different systems and acting out of those systems and being in opposition to those systems. It just seems like that's sort of a universal thing that people need to figure out, how they're going to emerge or pass or blend in or don't blend in. I mean, I guess that's what I want my students to think about, those kind of negotiations.

 

MG: Yeah, but I don't think you have to be coming from an identity position in order to do that work. There's this group that started since the election called Art Profs America that...

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: What's it called?

 

MG: It's called Art Profs America. I don't know why it's called that. 

 

JSC: Professors?

 

MG: Yeah, it means Art Professors America, but there might have already been an Art Professors America.  I don't know.  But one of the things that they're doing is aggregating resources for decolonizing our teaching in the arts and art history, for both studio and art history teaching. I know that for art history, there's at least one other major initiative for that that I know of, and the two are trying to coordinate and aggregate their resources. When I was working at Exit Art in the late '90s and early 2000s, it was the beginning of the archive digitization project and a big thing that all of these alternative spaces that were involve in digitizing their archives at the time we're thinking about was this idea that they held a kind of unwritten history, an alternative history, a history of a completely different kind of art that had been made at the same time that the history we knew. And I think that since those archives have been made much more accessible, mostly through these digitization initiatives, the teaching of that period has changed, our general speaking about that period has changed, the critical writing around that period has changed. So I think once there is a kind of collective effort to make the information that is accessible for teaching more multiple, then the teaching really can change. Then everyone can change their teaching. But there is a question of access and if people don't have access to their resources, they can't teach it.  So that is actually something we really have to think about and do better with.

 

CG: Yeah, and to teach it everybody shouldn't have to wake up at 3:30 and go to a photocopier where their friend was working and do this and that.  I mean, that's fine, that's great, we all did it, but I feel like there should be...

 

MG: We should no longer have to do that because there are so many easier ways now to share these things with each other, to learn from each other's teaching. And I think even though there have been a lot of threats to teaching at the university level, which I'm sure you're also experiencing in public education at high school and middle school and even elementary school levels, but there's been a lot of constraints on academic expression by things like Professor Watch and trigger warnings and so on and so forth.  We could have a whole separate argument about the utility of trigger warnings, which I actually don't think are such a crazy thing.  I think actually they can be quite useful.  But there's been a way in which some people who are teaching do feel constrained in how much they can bring politics into their classroom and I think that is really unfortunate–that that space which has always been a really important space for actually building, as you said, whole people, really teaching people how to live in the world, would be constrained from teaching students how to be civically-engaged people in the world who actually engage with their political context as well as their cultural context, right? 

 

CG: Which brings us back to some of the things that we have been talking about, but also from old-school educational theory, it's not about the information you transmit. It's everything else around it.  So students are looking at how you smell and did you wear the same outfit and are you–what did they call it?–are you an edgy sissy or a preppy sissy?  What are you?  How will you get attacked on the train or not, and can they model themselves after you?  So I feel like there's always all of this information that's outside of the...

 

MG: the actual content.

 

CG: ...yeah, and outside of the margins and in the interstices and on the floor, really, that you're trying to get people to think about. It's not necessarily about the beginning, middle, and end of the story we're telling, but very much how we're telling it and who we are as we're telling it.

 

MG: And so much of effective teaching, as you said, comes from holding a particular kind of space, being able to hold a space and then what kind of space you're constructing through the way that you're holding it, right?  And I think a lot of that comes from outside the content itself that you're transmitting but more about how you choose to...

 

CG: The form.

 

MG: Yeah, it's the form.

 

CG: And your form, and your bodily form, as you perform and speak.

 

MG: It is a performance in a lot of ways.

 

ML: Image-making.

 

CG: Yeah.

 

MG: Yeah. But the other part of it is addressivity, right? Jaime said something about position having a front and a back. So you're holding a space but you are holding it with everyone in the room, and you can't ever forget that, right?  So it is an invitation; teaching is an invitation to all these people to enter into that room with you, right? To enter into that space with you. 

 

ML: Well, thank you, everyone in the room.

 

CG: Thank you for listening to us.

 

MG: Thank you everybody.

 

KS: Thanks, troopers.