This is a website. It has a white background, emphasizing the blast of orange flames licking out from an old television set in the top left corner, free broadcasting with frequent and in-frequent interruptions, breaks, and glitches this living archive of independent, artist-made work.
Remember riding the Bloor subway line, during rush hour or after last call? Just below the flaming television set on the website’s home page is a horizontal, linear timeline of screenings, talks, interviews, performances, and even webspaces. The Sun is moving within Aries, I’m told, which the more astrologically-inclined will interpret to mean we should move towards the light. This is a time to acknowledge credit, to own the value of your contributions, to cite your sources. The Breadth Of spans an archive you may or may not be a part of, but is yours to discover, and disrupt. (You ain’t got nothing but time, and it ain’t got nothing on you.)
Scroll down past the What’s On Now and to the TV Guide on this home page — sorry, can I just interrupt with a Speaker’s Corner? I’m still pressed that TV Guide editors never published my teenage-authored letter about Jeanne Beker’s significance. Naomi was right. You don’t want to be in a magazine, every single month, month after month. People get bored seeing you that way. You want to be on the cover every couple months. Then step away, come back — new look — and come back again. It does make your career last longer.
(Also, artists, curators and culture workers should be paid.)
So let’s start with SuperWomen. Before the pandemic, I remember listening to a white female artist speak about a pile of Joyce Wieland’s marble. Even further back, I wrote about a white male chef creating a menu of Barbara Hammer-inspired food. These women, of course, paved a way; but they were valorized both in their own times and then afterwards, to the extent that the next generation and the generation after could be non-linear or playful in their remembrance. When you are “marginalized,” and think of the “marginalized” elders that came before, what you see is a lack of valorization. Specificity in the revisitations aren’t necessarily possible. There is too much weight and responsibility. Right now, I’m tired, and still reading a lot of fanfiction. I don’t want to fight for a seat at the table. But I want to learn more about New Initiatives In Film, and understand what it was like to create policy in the 1980s around racial equity, because, at the very least, this is part of what we inherited."
(Do you see what I am doing here? I’m telling you a bit about my own story, weaving it through this website hypertext narrative broken by programming keywords, because I truly believe this symposium is yours to discover — this is our time, perhaps, to step away and come back with an alternative outlook.)
Remember Electric Circus? No, not the broadcast. The party. Vanessa was wearing that catsuit — I think she even wore it at the Grace Jones concert in Detroit. Grace saw her. It was a moment.
When Richard died last fall, I went to his Halloween memorial in Yeonjun “Blue Hour” #cowboy cosplay (I’m not playing — I got the fancam documentation to prove it.) So dress up, dance around, and get uplifted by this Ultimate Top Ten Countdown.
On the subject of #ResonanceIsFurtive ghosts, I keep meaning to read Mike Hoolboom’s book on the Funnel film collective. Imagine Jack Smith performing a 1984 Halloween ritual at the Funnel Experimental Film Theatre?
(An editing note: after the first draft, Morgan tells me in a Google Doc comment that when Oliver reached out to Midi about including this film in the programme, Midi confessed she actually hid the film from Jack because after that night he took any recordings of that performance. She kept the film until he passed and then released it after.)
Speaking of traps: archives and collections can be suffocating, especially if you’re supposed to re-activate ghosts that should remain dead. I used to think this work could be done stealthily — take the money and run! — but it sometimes feels like you’ve made a deal with the devil.
Archives such as this have their absences. Even the most radically-formed artist-run centres fall in line with grant category subjectivities. Visibility and representation can box you, and art speak can obfuscate. Sometimes I want to write and make work that my mom understands; I look back at the ways I maybe allowed myself to be shaped and formed by those that had a checking-off-the-box agenda. Don’t form your mode of making and thinking on these parameters. Draw your own lines.
OK, enough about me. I’m actually not really interested in dishing my trauma narrative. We’re back on the main page, looking at the timeline. These programmes are still yours to discover in accordance to your circadian rhythms. This pandemic — yes, it’s exhausting, always flying within your own room. And if binge-watching Real Housewives is the only cultural consumption you can handle at this time, I don’t blame you. I watch fancams and TikToks this way. What else can you watch when your brain is melting during this everlasting present?
But — we have to show up in the ways we can. An interactive virtual space on the intersections of our communities could be a substitute for the steady comfort that is your Discord tabletop RPG-ing. Decolonialize death and mourning. Dismantle ableism within the filmmaking process. Forget me, the programmers and these organizers: consider accessing this archive from incarcerated participants. Choose phone trees over hashtags, or the pixelated aesthetic of low quality video.
Maybe in an altered state with anonymized augmented reality overlay we can have a real conversation about art? (I already turned off notifications for Clubhouse, and I’m over all this FUD clogging my timeline.)
During this everlasting present of lockdowns and closure, maybe if we shift our preconceived notions of downtown artistic centres, we can re-consider what it means to exist as trans and/or Two-Spirit existing on a movement-based continuum?
Stretch our bodies.
Move a little slower.