In early October, I participated in the annual convergence of the Hemispheric Institute’s Graduate Student Initiative. Founded by Diana Taylor, Zeca Ligiéro, Javier Serna, and Luis Peirano, the Hemispheric Institute promotes critical exchange between artists, activists, and intellectuals working in the Americas. The organization’s Graduate Student Initiative (GSI) aims to facilitate these exchanges within the next generation of scholars working across the expanse of these two diverse, dynamic continents. This year’s meeting of the GSI was hosted by New York University.
I participated in a working group entitled “What’s on Offer Today: Entering the City in Performance”, co-convened by Sareh Afshar, Abigail Levine, and Pedro Bennaton. The group consisted of eleven artist-scholars, each of us working at the intersection of theory and practice. Our offerings to the group proposed different visions for the possibilities of urban intervention in performance, informed by the critical conditions of the places we were coming from. Our dialogue adopted an ethos of expansive inquiry. Rather than attempt to answer each other’s questions as informed by our own geo-political perspectives, we returned each other’s questions with further questions. An ethics of sensitivity permeated the space, the materiality of our words met with attentiveness, respect, and curiosity.
Here are some of the questions that are our working together engendered:
– How can we honor the poetic possibilities of the body in urban space – both in moments of pedestrianism, and moments of exceptional circumstance?
– How do we display affection outwardly in urban environments that are increasingly hostile to the force of affect as a means of conducting civic encounter?
– As activists and artists, how can we reconsider our approaches to futility, or seeming impossibility?
– What is the relationship of passion to action? Can we conceive of that former as an ethics of the latter?
I offer these questions to you, and look forward to our continued, ever-expanding dialogue.
– Macklin Kowal, 1st year PhD student