Archive for June, 2021


Sunday, June 6th, 2021

I miss my dog.

He came into my life one month before my 24th birthday.

It’s been 3 years since he died.

One morning I tossed him a stick and as he ran to grab it, he collapsed. Initially I thought the tumble was due to his back legs which were giving him some trouble (he even wore protective booties to ensure his nails didn’t wear down from the dragging caused by an irregular gait). Instead I found a dog in shock, panting with a dry mouth and white gums unable to get up. Internal bleeding I later learned.

We had his spleen removed to prevent not only the possibility of cancer but a painful death that can happen if the embedded tumours rupture. Unfortunately, the removal of his spleen did not save him from the cancer as it had already begun seeding itself throughout his vascular system. Although I was heartbroken, I pummelled through the situation with desperate optimism and put my dog through a mild form of chemotherapy. This was not a cure but it would hopefully prolong his life by a few months and if we were really lucky, a year.

During this time I tried hard not to cry or be sad around him and I did my best to act cheerful. I’d bring him to the park a few times a day and generally spoiled him with new toys, treats and suffocating cuddles. Some days were okay, other times he’d suffer from exhaustion and minor internal bleeds leaving me to struggle as I carried his 14 kg body home. In these moments when his illness could not be hidden I felt ashamed and angry as other dog walkers with their healthy pets would look at us with pity. I often wore sunglasses in an attempt to obscure my puffy crying face.

I joined various Hemangiosarcoma cancer Facebook groups with other depressed pet owners. We welcomed unfortunate newcomers and collectively grieved when members would tearfully announce that “so and so” “crossed over the rainbow bridge”. I obsessively followed the holistic supplement and food regiments of the folks whose dogs managed to outlive their splenectomies and diagnoses by a full two years (most die a few months after their operations). These cases made me hopeful, until my dog died only a month after his surgery and then I became jealous of the few success stories. After his death, I carefully packed all of his holistic medications (which were fucking expensive) and sent them to another woman whose dog had just been diagnosed. She never sent a “thank you email” which admittedly really pissed me off. Soon after I exited all the FB cancer groups.

During the end of my dog’s life, I was scheduled to present a performance at Palais de Tokyo. Instead of cancelling, I convinced myself it was okay to travel for the four-day trip. I had already implicated others in the event, performers, the curator, the institution, etc. I “felt bad” to abandon my commitment and thought it would make me seem “unprofessional” and irresponsible if I pulled out due to “personal issues”. While I was gone, my husband took care of our dog, sending me many photos and videos, assuring me not to worry.

I returned home late in the evening on April 8th and the next morning I took my Chicho out for a morning coffee and a long walk. I posted a few Instagram stories of us together in the café and park. He seemed happy and energetic and I was relieved to be with him again. That afternoon he suffered another internal bleed and was taken to the vet and “put down”. I have never been able to reconcile my decision to go to work when what I should have done was stay at home.

It’s been 3 years, 1 month and 22 days since he died and I still miss my dog.

Zadie Xa was born in Vancouver on the unceded and traditional territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and is now based in London, UK. Her work is informed by her experiences within the Korean diaspora, as well as the environmental and cultural context of the Pacific Northwest. Her work often features garments, including cloaks and masks, used for live performance and within installation or moving image. Throughout her practice, Xa uses water and marine ecologies as metaphors for exploring the unknown, whilst also alluding to abstract notions of homeland. Zadie earned an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2014 and a BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2007.


Sunday, June 6th, 2021

My contribution is a compilation of albums I compose during the long research processes for my installations and video essays. Those albums contain quotes, reflections, texts I write for publications and endless notes I take in the form of text fragments, images or moving pictures, which I usually collage together as a first way to establish relations between the very heterogenous material, before I enter the editing process. The poems are part of an album I started writing shortly before the pandemic hit and is part of an ongoing writing process, without any conscious aim, but to find an expression parallel to the painstakingly process of artistic research and editing. Most of the imagery I use for my contribution comes from a project I’m developing now revolving around the feminisation of AI and the historical racial and gender bias embedded in technology. The project will include a video installation and a publication which will be exhibited next year at the Screen City Biennial in Oslo.

Eli Cortiñas is a video artist of Cuban descent, born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1979. She was a guest professor at the Art Academy Kassel and the Art Academy Mainz and is currently sharing a professorship for Spatial Concepts with Prof. Candice Breitz at the University of Art Braunschweig (HBK). Cortiñas has been awarded numerous grants and residencies, including Fundación Botín Grant, Kunstfonds, Villa Massimo, Berlin Senate Film/ Video Grant, Villa Sträuli, Goethe Institute, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Rupert and Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff among others. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at museums such as Museum Ludwig, Kunsthalle Budapest, CAC Vilnius, SCHIRN Kunsthalle, SAVVY Contemporary, Museum Marta Herford, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art Moscow, Kunstmuseum Bonn and MUSAC et al., as well as in international Biennials and festivals such as Riga Biennale, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Mardin Biennale, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, International Curtas Vila Do Conde and Nashville Film Festival. She lives and works in Berlin.


Sunday, June 6th, 2021


May is the month in which the flowers are stronger than the city’s concrete. The month of May always makes me believe that if we raise the city ground, we will find entire gardens beneath it.

In Portugal, May is also the month of Spike Day: the day that marks a timeless tradition related to the earth, where we pick daisies, an olive branch, spikes, rosemary and poppies. We gather them into a bouquet and place it behind the door of our house, so it will watch over us until the next year, when the bouquet should be replaced. Each component of this bunch has a meaning. The spikes, which should be an odd number, symbolize bread, the main source of sustenance. The daisy represents wealth and earthly goods. The olive branch refers to peace and light. Rosemary conveys strength and resilience. The poppy signifies life. But, for me, the poppy has always been a flower between life and death: its great beauty didn’t seem to belong to this world and its utter fragility made me think that its passage through this life was necessarily brief.

I was born in the outskirts of Lisbon, in a paradise of reinforced concrete where the flowers and weeds had to fight hard against the cement to gain the right to exist. But high up on my 12th floor we could see a mountain, the proof that nature was our only salvation. My only daily contact with nature was through my eyes, which every day peeked at the mountain from the 12th floor.

In the week of Spike Day, the fragments of nature that resisted the concrete became essential. My mother, who never cared for Catholic traditions (“Yes, Catarina, Jesus might have existed, but to say that he brought people back to life takes a leap greater than Armstrong’s on the moon!”), but who had an inexplicable relationship with all things natural, felt the need to pick that bunch in the middle of the city. From early on, my brother and I got used to my mother’s impulses, who despite not believing in God was the most ardent believer in nature. Nothing could stop her. The mountain that we could see from the 12th floor became our main pilgrimage site. It was there that we learned how to make the Spike Day bunches. Poppies were always the hardest to find. Nonetheless, we sniffed out their color and when we finally made out a sliver of red in the landscape, my brother, my mother and I ran towards it as if it were the Holy Grail. And it was. For us, the poppies had to come from the center of the Earth, from that place that is also painted red and where the gods of the underworld reign. We couldn’t have invented any of this, since for the Greeks (and my mother taught us to believe in them) the poppy was the symbol of sleep, oblivion and death. In the part of Greek mythology concerned with mystery, poppies are abundant and cover entire fields: Hypnos, the god of sleep, with wings sprouting from his head, carried poppies with him. He inherited the symbol from his mother, Nyx, the night, so frequently crowned with the red flower. Morpheus, god of dreams, capable of taking on any human shape and appear in anyone’s chimeras, walked around in eternity holding poppies. When the Romans came along they dragged the poppy from the invisible world and made it the symbol of Ceres, the goddess of plants, fields and fertility. In the Middle Ages, Christians placed the poppies inside Christ’s body and believed they saw his blood in them. In the 20th century these red flowers became the symbol of the soldiers killed during the First World War, since it is said that poppies bloomed in the fields where they died.

When we finally pulled the poppies from the earth, we knew that we had in our hands a treasure as fragile as our existence. Finding the poppies on Spike Day meant finding the element that brought the most joy to the bouquet and also its most ephemeral: from the moment we plucked the poppy we knew that it was only a matter of days before its petals started falling like silk paper and the poppy quietly returned to its invisible world.

While writing The Metamorphosis of Birds it often occurred to me that cinema, like art, lives between life and death, in an endless plunge into the center of the Earth and of ourselves. With The Metamorphosis of Birds I was lucky to spend six years working in that limbo where the poppies live: between the invisible world of our dead and the world of nature, which is full of consolation. During those six years I carried with me the passage that begins the film The Beaches of Agnès: “If we opened people up, we would find landscapes. If we opened me up, we would find beaches.”

This year, after not having done so for a long time, I went back to the mountain to gather the spike bouquet: it had rained a lot that week and the poppies had all returned to the earth. Like in the movies, when I was about to give up, convinced that the poppies had become invisible to my adult eyes, they appeared in the moment when day and night meet.

I thought:
If I were a landscape, I would like to be a poppy field.

Polaroids by Catarina Vasconcelos (Lanzarote, 2021. Carnaxide, 2021)

Catarina Vasconcelos was born in Lisbon in 1986. She holds a B.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon and completed a post-graduate course in Visual Anthropology at the ISCTE-IUL. She received a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art, in London, where her final project was the short film Metaphor, or Sadness Inside Out (2014). The film premiered in the Cinéma du Réel festival, where it received the award for best short film. It also screened in numerous festivals, including RIDM – Montreal International Documentary Festival (Best International Medium-Length Film Award), DokLeipzig, Moscow International Film Festival and Doclisboa. Her first documentary feature The Metamorphosis of Birds premiered in the new Encounters section at the 70th Berlinale, in February 2020, where it received the FIPRESCI award of the International Federation of Film Critics. Since then, the film has been shown in various festivals, such as New Directors/New Films or San Sebastian-Donostia International Film Festival where it was awarded best film in the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section. The film won as well the best film award at the Vilnius Kino Festival, in Lithuania, the Special Jury Award at the Taipei Film Festival, best film award at New Horizons, Poland, among others. In this moment, Catarina Vasconcelos is preparing her first feature fiction, ‘Pintura Inacabada’ (Unfinished Painting) which is taking part of Torino Script Lab 2021.


Sunday, June 6th, 2021

73 years to the Nakba. We continue to resist and speak truth to power. Words by @rabeaegh

Jumana Manna was born in 1987, she lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She was awarded the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist Award in 2012 and the Ars Viva Prize for Visual Arts in 2017. Manna has presented solo exhibitions at various spaces internationally, including at Tensta Konsthall, Sweden (2020); Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain (2019); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2018); Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (2018); Mercer Union, Toronto (2017); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2017); Malmö Kunsthall, Sweden (2016); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); and SculptureCenter, New York (2014). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and festivals, including Toronto Biennial of Art (2019); 11th Taipei Biennial (2018); Nordic Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); Liverpool Biennial (2016); Marrakech Biennale 6 (2016); 54th and 56th Vienna International Film Festivals (2016 and 2018); 66th and 68th Berlinale (2016 and 2018); and CPH:DOX, Copenhagen (2018), where Wild Relatives (2018) won the New:Visions award. Solo exhibitions of her work are forthcoming at Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, and Berkley Art Museum, San Francisco, both in 2021.


Sunday, June 6th, 2021

Found family photos of Justine and Richard’s porch (undated), with my notes c. 2014
Click image to view larger

My maternal grandmother, Justine, died in September of 2003, weeks before my mom outed me at 16. The same year saw the release of a film that had been shot on my step-grandfather Richard’s defunct farm, where Justine also lived, in rural central Vermont. The Mudge Boy stars Emile Hirsch as Duncan Mudge, a fey fourteen year old reckoning with his strict and emotionally unavailable father in the wake of his mother’s death. The film is spare, and explicit. Duncan’s closest companion is a rooster named “Chicken,” whose head he (both suggestively and forebodingly) places in his mouth several times throughout the film, “to calm him,” according to the advice of his late mother. The film traces the sexually charged relationship between Duncan and Perry, one of Duncan’s bullies whose own father routinely beats him.

I’m not sure what Justine and Richard knew about The Mudge Boy when their property was scouted, or whether they saw the finished film. I assume they needed the income from the shoot, which must have been burdensome to undertake given Justine’s hoarding tendencies, and the routine grime of farmhouse living. After attending a local screening, a disgraced relative recounted The Mudge Boy to my dismayed mother. Various family members felt violated by the film, which includes a (gay) rape scene involving Duncan and Perry, among the hints of bestiality. Though I doubt she ever saw it herself, my mom forbade me from seeing The Mudge Boy. As a newly emboldened queer cinephile, I naturally ordered the DVD.

The sequence of these events is hazy to me. I assume that The Mudge Boy was shot in 2002, and that I obtained the DVD in 2004. I haven’t visited Mount Holly – where the farm was, and where my mom grew up – since Justine’s funeral in 2003. I visited Justine during her last summer, but only because I had a meltdown at the debate camp I had received a scholarship to attend, and quit after coming down with an interminable stomach ache. Quitting debate induced my resolve to become an artist, which also corresponded with my queer revelation – just before Justine died in heart surgery.

I don’t have many photographs of the inside of Richard and Justine’s house, but I revisit it – rendered unnaturally spartan in film – seventeen years after my first viewing of The Mudge Boy.

Wilder Alison is an interdisciplinary artist and a graduate of the Bard MFA Painting program. In recent years, Alison has exhibited work with Gordon-Robichaux, Gaa Gallery, Rachel Uffner, CUE Foundation, 247365, Primetime, and Garden Party Arts, among others. Recent solo shows include Slit Subjects at White Columns (New York), $PLIT $UBJECT at Marlboro College (Vermont), and new wools at the Hudson D. Walker Gallery in Provincetown, MA. Alison was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in 2016-17 and 2018-19, and has also participated in residencies at Triangle France-Astérides, Lighthouse Works, Fire Island Artist Residency, and Lower East Side Printshop. Alison performs as N0 ST0NES, with recent engagements at SUBLIMATION Projects, H0L0 NYC, CUE Foundation, and LaKAJE in New York. Alison will be a fellow at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2022.