Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Altar, Alter – Self, Other


Are My Hands Clean? · Sweet Honey In The Rock, Live at Carnegie Hall  
YouTube: "Published on Jun 7, 2015; Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America. ℗ 1988 Rounder Records. Manufactured and distributed by Concord Music Group, Inc."




Projects are shared in class poster session-style on Tuesday 17 November. That means 

=for the first third of class time, EVERYONE in the class will create small displays of their work all around our room. Silently we will all walk around among these displays, taking notes on how they address intersectionality and what we learn that we did not know from seeing them. 

=then we will divide into two groups, one half of our large class will stand by their displays, 
talking to their presenters about their work individually and in little groups, interacting with them all at the same time. Katie and your TAs will also wander around, learning about your work and offering insights. 

=Who displays and who walks around will switch in the final third of class time, continuing to talk to presenters, and sharing one's own thinking about how and why you did your project the way you did. 

=During section next week, you will create a discussion about what we have noticed about each others’ projects and what we have learned from sharing our thinking and action and art activisms! 

You cannot get full credit for this assignment until after you present your work in this poster session-style event and discuss it in section. In other words, just a project object does not in itself complete the assignment, reflection and writing as well as displaying yours and interacting with others is similarly important. If an emergency or illness kept you from participation either day, to get full credit you will have to meet with three other students to share your work and their work outside class, and write up the experience and what you learned from it to complete the participation portion of that grade.


Tuesday, 10 November – Altar, Alter – Self, Other
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 3. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Read about it in Perez.
• Read Perez, Conclusion
• Read more from Octavia's Brood and something Bechdel: what did you chose and why? How can you connect all this?

Self and Other, Otherings of various kinds are political and power transactions with implications for social justice. Perez is interested in how people survive oppression through art and spirit, creating culture and meaning, and “politicizing spirituality.” What are the implications for intersectionality? What feminisms are vibrant here? How do your readings intertwine among art-activisms?  


"Singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon brings her genre-bending music and irresistible performance style to Under The Radar with a work-in-progress concert of her new opera, written in collaboration with Bernice Johnson Reagon. The Parable of the Sower, adapted from Octavia Butler’s post-apocalyptic novel, follows a young woman fleeing the violence of a futuristic Los Angeles in this fable that blends science fiction with African-American spiritualism and deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization."


Alma Lopez. 1997. California Fashion Slaves 
Perez 2007: 146: "The ideas of knowing your place and having a place are tied together and suggest that the personal sense of being at home, whether in society or in your body, whether it is a female, a queer, an immigrant, or a negatively racialized minority body, or a combination of these, is shaped by our sense of belonging socially. This sense of belonging is not untied from our historical relationship to the places in which we dwell."


He/Man language: generic masculine: unmarked & marked categories:  
Martyna 1980, 489: "Empirical explorations of how we comprehend the generic masculine also indicate its sex exclusiveness. My studies of pronoun usage show striking sex differences in both the use and understanding of the generic masculine. Females use 'he' less often than do males, and turn more frequently to alternatives such as 'he or she' and 'they.' Males have an easier time imagining themselves as members of the category referenced by generic 'he.' Seven times as many males as females say they see themselves in response to sex-neutral sentences referring to a 'person', or 'human being.' In general, males appear to be using and understanding 'he' in its specific more often than in its generic sense. Females both avoid the use of 'he' and respond to its use with a more generic than specific interpretation."


(488): "Cognitive confusion is another consequence of the generic masculine, one particularly relevant for the academic disciplines. Joan Huber, for example, has characterized the use of 'he' and 'man' as 'an exercise in doublethink that muddles sociological discourse.' She cites the recent sociology text which proclaims: 'The more education an individual attains, the better his occupation is likely to be, and the more money he is likely to earn.' The statement is accurate only if the individual is male.""Man can do several things which the animal cannot do....Eventually, his vital interests are not only life, food, access to females, etc., but also values, symbols, institutions." [Miller, Swift 1980: 12]  [See also Wikipedia: Gender Neutrality in English ; and Markedness ]


Notice how many people fall through the gaps between these? Mixed race people, bisexual people. Intersectionality tries especially to deal with that. Or how many change from one place to another? one time to another? who counts as "white" is very changeable in this way.

unmarked categories: am I included? 

gender: man/(wo)man -- (cis)gender/(trans)gender 
race: white/people of color
sex: sexuality/(homo)sexuality
ability: able/(dis)abled
class: middle class/working class  
age: young adult/children and the old 
religion: Christian (often Protestant)/range of religions and non-religions, from Jews and Muslims to atheists and nontheists and more 
language in US: English (monolingual)/range of languages in multiple knowledges, from Spanish to Spanglish to bilingual to multi-lingual -- often coded for immigration status and race 
nationality: citizen/non-citizens of many sorts, especially immigrants of various kinds 


alter/altar: artists have us 

the Other and Othering: separation & projections on Progress:  Hanging out with theory & its people and animals: 
Wikipedia "disambiguation" page (boundary objects unknotted) on Otherness:  
Haraway's "significantly other to each other" book review:

significant otherness and alterity: respect for anOther

"One of the reasons that Haraway is fun to read is that she is in conversation with so many different academic fields and scholars. She brings to bear competencies in biology and the history of science, continental philosophy, feminist and Marxist theory, structuralism, semiotics, science fiction, and popular culture.... In When Species Meet, Haraway frequently rails against the doctrines of human exceptionalism in both its religious and secular forms. Her trope of “companion species” is her way of deconstructing the boundaries between human and animal, self and other. Humans and domesticated animals are coevolved, significant others to each other in complex and asymmetrical ways. The dogmas of human exceptionalism render our significant and troubled relationships with animals invisible, one-dimensional, and deceivingly simplistic."

What stories do we tell about how change works out? 


Is the past a history of errors?
UN Statistics: Millennium Indicators: Millennium Development Goals Snapshot 2014:

Does time enfold or stretch out or spiral and shift?
Is the future better or worse? 

In 2014 what goals set earlier for 2015 had been reached? Who set them? How? Donor investment, criticisms, accomplishments 


>>>New goals set, by whom and with what sorts of ways of evaluating them? 

A Better World by 2030 - Post-2015 Development Goals   cost-effective? limited, win/lose? Copenhagen Consensus 
YouTube: "Published on Mar 17, 2014; In 2015, the UN's Millennium Development Goals are expiring and the international community will set new goals.The next development goals are extremely important. They will drive priorities and influence up to $700bn in foreign aid over 15 years. This opportunity has energized the international community to set a vision that will make the world better by 2030. The level of engagement is incredible - at the moment, there are more than a thousand proposed goals for the next development agenda! But which ones should we choose? How do we even begin to prioritize all these suggestions? Which ones can we realistically achieve in the shortest time, with the fewest inputs, and which will do the most good?"


Transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs
evidence-based? multiple indexes, all numerical? UNDP 
YouTube: "Published on Sep 25, 2015; An end to poverty, hunger and inequality worldwide. That and more is the ambitious agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon by 193 countries at the United Nations in September 2015."


political? moral? religious? how do you know? dangers of public-private partnerships? Jubilee Debt Campaign UK & earlier Jubilee 2000 
"Campaigners protested outside a conference in London this morning to warn of the dangers to government finances of public-private partnerships. The campaigners placed a large ‘debt iceberg’ near the entrance to the conference to illustrate the hidden financial risk of schemes such as the UK’s Private Finance Initiative."  


in grps of three: 

• Start with the fifth book you chose: which stories about change does it promote, or take for granted, or criticize, or otherwise engage? 

> pick examples of each of these from art works and books we have read and thought about for class.

> name an issue you care about that illustrates your sense of each of the four stories about change: progress (it gets better), decline (things are getting worse), return (stuff circles around and returns), mixed (a lot goes on all the time).

"as Chicana and other Latina/o art suggest, the cultural effects of increased globalization and cultural democracy include both the restructuring of religious beliefs and practices and the birth of hybrid forms." (96)

"Amalia Mesa-Bain's altar-installations are among the earliest and the most sustained explorations of the medium, spanning from 1975 through 1997, in more than thirteen major pieces." (97) 

Trinity (1993), for example, refigures the cross, the Virgin, and the Christian trinity in feminist and indigenlous terms, surrounded by symbols of rebirth and fertility in nature. Although the mestiza women appear in Western guise, as contemporary women, and as the Guadalupe, they are three in one, as the barely visible hands of an outstretched body behind them suggests." (109-10)

Venus Envy Chapter I: "semiotic oscillation between altar and desk, to which are now added vanity table and laboratory....the vanity table also a theatrical space that allows for potentially expansive refashionings of identity. Like the religous altar it is a place for the care of the self, and for the accumulations of objects imbued with personal meaning. In this sense, it is an altar where reverence for theotherwise devalued, gendered self, and what if important to the self, is cultivated." (100-1)

"In [Carmen] Lomas Garza's case, popular culture-based altars, drawings, and retablo-inspired monito (ie. cartoon-like) paintings were neither naive nor natural choices for a trained artist in the 1970s. They were a conscious political choice for a young artist repeatedly exposed to discrimination against Mexican-Americans in South Texas. To combine teh visual languages of high and popular arts constituted a de facto critical reappraisal of both...." (104) [her website]

Santa Contreras Barraza "recreates the votive tradition, correctly, as a pre-Columbian legacy as much as a Christian one, by framing her exvotos through the use of Maya-like glyphs and the Mesoamerican visual conventions of the is clear the artis has restyled traditional Maya and Aztec glyphs innto new glyphs of her own.... [These works] express hybrid spiritualities thriough the culturally hybrid media of the retablo as a specifically religious art form. 

Patricia Rodriguez
Patssi Valdez
Barbara Carrasco
Lourdes Portillo



Purity and Danger
"The female body’s entry into the space of the artwork (be it video art, painting, photography or any other medium) is a momentous entry. Due to its being positioned in a conflictive place in the patriarchal culture, overloaded with “otherness”, the female body is spontaneously grasped as a soft platform for trial and error, drafting, kneading, squeezing, twisting, pinching, and pain. At times, this repertoire of various displays of the female body is translated into a burning protest, as in the works by Lena Liv, and Lee Yanor. Yet, at other times, owing to the over-accessibility of the body, the artist neutralizes the corporeal and transforms it into the intangible and fragile, as in the work of Jan Rauchwerger “New Studio”.
However, decoding a work of art can never be reduced to a single theoretical move. Thus, in Lee Yanor’s video art “Lullaby” the female body is positioned both as the symbolic stance representing total purity, seeking to expropriate any carnality, and, in an act that is rooted in the visual depictions of Maria in Christian tradition, the secular and a-sexual, post modern contemporary mother1, as a present day saint. The never-ending fall in Yanor’s video is not a mere effort “to break the body”, both in the perverted, Sado-Masochistic earthly sense, up to the metaphysical desire immanent in it. Equitably, the rite of infinite fall, the fall into abyss and nothingness, and then the return to life, is the simultaneous rite of both consecration and desecration."


"But when we simply call for a fight against "mass incarceration" or against the "drug war," we do this thing where we divide people into "good prisoners" and "bad prisoners." We talk about people who don't deserve to experience the violence of incarceration and people who "do deserve it." We allow ourselves to discard large numbers of people and deem them (or continue to deem them) less than human. That kind of thinking is not really landing us outside the framework of a prison nation. Plus, it creates the impression that if you end the drug war or mass incarceration or "fix" sentencing laws, you'll get rid of the problems that are actually intrinsic to the institution."  


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