We made it! I’m reminded of how this year has been in turns exhilarating, enraging, and just plain extra as I sift through the “year in review” emails clogging my inbox. For me, it’s been a year of finally completing work upended by the pandemic, sharing older completed projects with a wider public, and nurturing the seeds of collaborations that will take root in the new year.
MY ELECTRIC GENEALOGY
The completion and initial tour of My Electric Genealogy was definitely the creative highlight of 2022. Many (many!) years in the making, the project took me places I’d never gone before creatively – like semi-improvisational movement, conversationally delivering a memorized 35-page script, and triggering 58 AV cues from stage. While the bones of the project – exploring the justice implications of the “infrastructures of feeling” around nature, gender, race, and progress materialized in the physical infrastructure built by my grandfather – remained intact, the project went places I couldn’t have anticipated back when the pandemic put it on pause.
It was an honor and pleasure to work with the words and wisdom of DinéCARE members Adella Begaye, Robyn Jackson, and Percy Deal, as well as Tó Nizhóní Ání co-founder Nicole Horseherder on sound/video collages that punctuate my monologue. Working on sound design with Jacob Ross is always a joyful learning experience. And after multiple crises of confidence in the writing, production, and rehearsal process, it was absolutely amazing to engage with audiences who found the piece deeply moving and relevant across generations. You can see video excerpts of the performance at the University of Oregon’s Hope Theater at this Vimeo Showcase – the password is #JustTransition. As one student at Caltech, who attended the performance as part of an environmental justice course, said, “If there is one thing I remember from this class, it will be that performance” – before remembering her professor was there and adding that she’d remember other things, too.
My Electric Genealogy isn’t over yet – I’ve got a Midwest mini-tour planned, with dates at Macalaster College, Northwestern University, Watershed Art + Ecology, University of Iowa, and Southern Illinois University in February. I’m looking to round out 2023 with East Coast performances and publication possibilities for the script.
COLORADO NUCLEAR ATLAS
Released in 2021, A People’s Atlas of Nuclear Colorado (conceived and edited with Shiloh Krupar) has been steadily making the rounds. We’ve presented the project at a wide range of venues, ranging from academic (CUNY Graduate Center) to art world (ICA Miami) to activist (Hanford Reach), with additional talks early in 2023 planned with the Nuclear Energy Information Service, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Denver Public Library. We’ve gotten wonderful reviews in Cultural Geographies, ASAP Journal, Social Text, and others and are looking forward to publishing a forum on the project in Society & Space in the coming year.
A pandemic side-project, the short, meditative animated video Coronaura premiered at the Big Muddy Film Festival this year. The film layers found images and text with simple animations and personal narration in an essayistic and intimate working through of the events of 2020, their long prehistory, and possible futures glimpsed through the smoke of wildfires and insurrections. It’s also screened in a few venues this fall, including the Artist’s Forum Festival of the Moving Image (NYC) and SENE (RI).
In the coming year, I am leading a study trip to Georgia (the country – see above), but in my personal work, I am recommitting to my home region – Massachusett territory. Native Space is a collaboration with Elizabeth Solomon of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag and my partner and longtime collaborator, Nick Brown. We are developing a location-based, expressive audio documentary for the City of Salem looking at both the imposition of a property paradigm on Massachusett land by English settlers and at the relational forms of Indigenous habitation and caretaking that still endure. Supported by a Collective Futures Fund grant, Public Parks, Native Lands (another collaboration with Nick Brown) is a video and series of research walks grappling with the colonial violence that produced Boston’s acclaimed public parklands. Like everything I do, the work is slow, but I’m looking toward fall for public sharing of these projects.