Co-resistance and Care
Activations of Solidarity: Co-resistance and Care is an online publication that centres the embodied knowledges and experiences of Black, Afro-Indigenous, Indigenous, and Indigiqueer artists and the ways they enact solidarity and accountability within their communities. The title of this collection of artworks is inspired by the conversation between Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson published in Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada. In this dialogue moderated by Jas M. Morgan, Maynard and Simpson reflect on the future of Black and Indigenous sovereignties and self determination and how this is grounded in co-resistance and solidarity with one another. Each of the artists in this publication offer to us the ways in which they generate actions of solidarity within their communities and reject values embedded in the white supremacy system — colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism.
Taryn Walker’s work, A Lesson in Listening is composed of five ink drawings and a soundscape. Organic in shape, each of these drawings are inspired from hours on their homeland where Walker recorded the sounds of the land and waters. We can hear the gentle lull of waters to rushing rivers, humming of insects, the leaves rustling in the wind. We are thinking about the land as our teacher, listening to the -earth as listening to the needs of our communities.
Collaborators and best friends Kiera Boult and Alex Jacobs-Blum consider the impacts of colonization on Black, Indigenous and racialized bodies and the ways they navigate urban spaces stemming from their shared experience of growing up in the suburbs of Hamilton, ON. Using humor and parodying urban and economic development videos, their video performance As Above, So Below examines how gentrification is used as a violent tool of colonialism.
The sound based audio and visualscape Black Native by Karmella Bendito De Barros calls attention to the intersections of Black and Indigenous lived experiences. Oscillating between overlapping videos of the land, water, and interviews with Black and Afro-Indigenous artists and writers Amber Starks and Cheyenne Wyzzard-Jones, Barros describes this work in their artist statement as a “somatic experiencing of collective ceremony” that honours Black Native Femmes.
The performance Enemy Moves by Fannie Sosa in collaboration with artist Navild Acosta examines the ways that colonial power structures maintained by white supremacy turn us against our own community members, and how we cannot achieve true liberation within these structures. While listening to Sosa recite their poem and reference Audre Lorde’s essay “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”, Dacosta carries us away in repetitive dance movements. These movements, as Sosa mentions, demonstrates that “We are all been taught to betray each other in front of power”.
Returning to this essay, Lorde affirms “Without community, there is no liberation”. It is through our collective actions of solidarity that we are accountable to our kin and communities we belong to. Each of the works in this bundle offer rejections of white supremacy and the settler colonial state, and a constellation of possibilities and radical love.
Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros
video, 9 min 13 sec
Black Native by Karmella Benedito De Barros is an audio-visual piece exploring the intersections of Black and Indigenous lived experience, emphasizing the cause for solidarity building between Black and Indigenous communities and individuals specifically on Turtle Island. This solidarity building is embodied and modeled by mixed race Black Native / Afro-Indigenous people, whom other’s can look to for guidance and leadership in our movements for collective liberation and sovereignty illustrated throughout this piece.
Drawing on archival audio interviews with Amber Starks and Cheyenne Wyzzard-Jones, this sound based audio-visualscape tells the story of Black Native femmes on Turtle Island breaking barriers of connectivity to learn, teach, fight, rest and exist as uncompromised dynamic and sacred beings. This piece grounds itself in a somatic experiencing of collective ceremony, allowing storytelling to become communal ceremony, offering a glimpse into understanding the multidimensional Black Native Femme experience.
As Above, So Below
& Kiera Boult
video, 4 min 41 sec
Long-time collaborators and best friends, Kiera Boult and Alex Jacobs-Blum (Lower Cayuga Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River/ German) investigate the impacts of colonization on Black, Indigenous and racialized bodies and how they navigate urban spaces. Having both grown up in the suburbs of Hamilton, ON, Boult and Jacobs-Blum explore the intersection of their identities, which led to past collaborations on Black and Indigenous solidarity.
As Above, So Below, satirically looks at the gentrification and urban sprawl in Hamilton to Caledonia (bordering Six Nations of the Grand River Territory). Using found footage to parody economic and urban development videos such as: 2006 Douglas Creek Estates attempted survey, Pier 8 development proposal and Hamilton’s 1946 Chamber of Commerce promotional movie. Audio of Beverly Jacobs and Skyler Williams anchors the found footage to the Land Back movement. In this piece, Hamilton is shot as a post-apocalyptic landscape capturing a dystopian view on industrialization. Boult and Jacobs-Blum assert themselves through performance within these environments as a commentary on the colonial mindset of ownership.
A Lesson In Listening
sound and wax preserved drawings
A Lesson In Listening delves into the concepts of solidarity and listening through two mediums — wax preserved drawings and sound.
This project included many hours of fieldwork and time spent both on the land and listening to it. The wax preserved drawings accompanying the soundscape are inspired by this experience. These drawings depict monumental and iconographic figures surrounded by bountiful plants and animals. These figures are representations of the future – powerful, beautiful, and often gender ambiguous. I see the figures I have created as optimistic and resilient beings: beings that deeply love themselves, their communities — both human and animal, and the Earth. Some images appear to be rotting, others in bloom, the cycles of life and death folding into each other — the Earth breathing in and breathing out. When coated in wax another layer was created; a wall transparent and sturdy, the narratives of these beings preserved, but their gestures, marks, and essence continuing to breathe out.
In a world that is so visually driven due to platforms like Instagram, landscapes often become the backdrop to our lives instead of the source. I am interested in exploring how when faced with landscape in the form of a soundscape the viewer will be forced to actively listen to the landscape instead of just seeing it. In my eyes, actively listening to one another is integral to the process of healing and solidarity. I see a direct relationship between listening to the land and healing it, as well as listening to each other and healing ourselves. As my ancestor’s primary form of preserving information, stories, and histories was oral, I see listening as an act of preservation — by listening to the land we preserve it for the generations to come.
I also see listening as the ultimate act of solidarity — by listening we provide space for voices to be amplified and given a platform. Our society that is currently rooted in capitalism encourages us to value individual voices over the collective, as well as speak and have answers without pause for thought or space for listening. Even though listening is a simple act, I think it is inherently anti-capitalist and decolonial. By listening we prioritize our communities. By listening we stand in solidarity with each other, and become stronger together.
video, 3 min 12 sec
Enemy Moves is a video collaboration with artist Navild Acosta around the poem Enemy Moves by Fannie Sosa.
Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros is an inner-city Indigiqueer with Treaty 6 Mistawasis Nêhiyaw and Afro-Brazilian ancestry. They are a Multidisciplinary Artist, Writer, and Community Worker born and raised in diaspora as a guest on the unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam territories. Karmella currently works in Youth Outreach and as the Indigenous Brilliance Community Engagement leader. They support the Indigenous Brilliance reading series; a collaborative series between Room Magazine and Massy Books, celebrating Indigenous women/2SQ storytellers.
Kiera Boult is an interdisciplinary artist and performer from Hamilton, Ontario. Boult’s practice utilizes camp and comedy to skeptically address issues that surround the role and/or identity of the artist and the institution. In 2019, Boult was the recipient of the Hamilton Emerging Visual Artist Award. Her work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Hamilton and Trinity Square Video. She has participated in the Art Gallery of York University’s final Performance Bus, 7a*11D’s 7a*md8 – ONLINE and Life of a Crap Head’s Doored. Boult appears in the recent Chroma Issue of Canadian Art. She holds a BFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University and is currently Vtape’s Submissions, Collections & Outreach Coordinator.
Alex Jacobs-Blum’s dichotomous Hodinöhsö:ni’ and German identity raises questions of belonging and relationship to land. Struggling to find a unified sense of identity perpetuates an investigation in notions of authenticity and legitimacy. Alex navigates personal experiences by challenging colonial structures as an act of self-determination and resistance. Focusing on the territories that have sustained her Indigenous family for generations, photography presents a way of engaging knowledge carried by her ancestors.
Nationally Alex’s work has been exhibited since 2015 at the University of Ottawa, the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, and Critical Distance Centre for Curators, Toronto. She has facilitated photo and social justice workshops with Indigenous youth at Western University, London and at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, Hamilton. Alex holds a Bachelor of Photography from Sheridan College (2015).
Fannie Sosa is an afro-sudaka activist, artist, and pleasure scholar, currently doing a France-Brasil co-directed PhD called Twerk/Torque: Anti Colonial Strategies for Thriving and Surviving in Web 2.0 Times. They create mixed media knowledge packages that span performance / video installations / circular talks / extended workshops, using pleasure and its transmission as a radical act of resistance for an embodied afro-diasporic evolutionary praxis.
Their written work is set up to question binary epistemicides, scientific and institutional racism, and sex economical inequalities. They have been featured at the Tate Modern (UK), MOAD Miami (US), le Centre Pompidou (FR), the Broad Museum (US), Wiener Festwochen (AU), Nitéroi’s MAC (BR), IMG Gallery (UK), and Museo Reina Sofía(ES), among others. Sosa has collaborated with Tabita Rezaire, Navild Acosta, Bearcat, Miss Boogie, Ana Pi, and Julien Creuzet.
Sosa’s current projects involve Pleasure is Power, a multimedia conference around healing bass, sexual autonomy and oshunality, and Black Power Naps, a series of non mixed restful spaces around the world, in collaboration with Navild Acosta. They use their gender studies degree to pop their pussy even more severely than before. Fannie Sosa currently lives and works between Europe and South-America.
Taryn Walker is a queer, Indigenous artist of Salish (Nɬeʔképmx) ancestry whose work explores concepts of identity, tenderness, healing, cycles of life and death, and the supernatural through drawing, printmaking, installation, and video.In 2018 Walker graduated from the University of Victoria with a Major in Visual Arts and a Minor in Art History & Visual Studies. Most recently Walker presented work in the following exhibitions — The Works: Activated at Churchill Square in Edmonton, AB presented by The Works International Visual Arts Society (2021) and The Breathing Wall at the historical E&N Roundhouse in Victoria, BC in collaboration with artist Connie Morrey and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (2020). Their work has been presented in spaces and events such as Arc.Hive Artist Run Centre (2019), Luna Arts Festival (2018), Integrate Arts Festival (2018), and Bass Coast Music & Arts Festival’s 10th Anniversary (2018). Walker’s artistic research has also been granted support from the Edmonton Arts Council, the Indigenous Curatorial Collective, and the First Peoples Cultural Council.