Midwinter Tour Recap
The midwinter, Midwest performance tour for “My Electric Genealogy” is in the books. It was an amazing run of eight shows in venues ranging from a tiny storefront gallery in Winona, MN to a gorgeous, avocado green midcentury lecture hall – complete with a fossilized dinosaur – in Carbondale, IL. Fall dates on the East Coast coming soon! In the meantime, check out the beautiful photographs taken by Justin Barbin at the Northwestern University show below.
March 16, 2 PM MT
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April 19, 3:30 PM ET
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April 25, 11 AM ET
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In the Archives and the Studio
Two new projects – too early to share now – address the place where I live: Massachusett territory, at the moment it came into being the “property” of non-Native invaders (including my ancestors). Mindful of Pierre Bélanger’s warning that recognition without reckoning functions as an “alibi” for continued investment in racial capitalism and settler colonialism, I’m going deep into the colonial archive to find the bloodless documents by which the bloody work of dispossession was accomplished.
The archival materials are incredibly interesting, and I’m exploring ways to make them speak their own subtext: the flimsiness and anxiety of white possession, rather than proof of legitimate ownership. Land records in the 1600s were haphazard, handwritten, descriptive, and rarely mapped, but what they lack in precision they make up for in narrative embellishment. Rather than reassuring that everything was above-board, lengthy proclamations of the “free will” and “eternal friendship” with which land was transferred from Native to English hands suggest instead that coercion and animosity were the norm. It can be difficult to ascertain which parts of often extensive colonial estates were linked to a specific atrocity, and my attempt to do so should not suggest that other properties are somehow untainted by the violence that suffused the entire colonial enterprise.
I’m also very mindful that my own experience of these deeds is remediated. I know them as scans of nineteenth century transcripts or digitized microfilm of handwritten original documents. This work is an act of revisiting, remembering, and, hopefully, repairing – in the constructive, future-oriented sense promoted by Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò. I look forward to the next phase of these projects: conversations with Indigenous holders of the lands, non-Native managers, and scholars of the colonial enterprise on what these violent legacies call on us to do in the present.