COOP ~ All About My Mother from Month to Month

Seminar 6: June 2020

Home is where the work starts*

Cooking time: 14 - 17 June

Cooks: Sepake Angiama, Nina bell F. (Staci Bu Shea, Binna Choi, Yolande van der Heide), G Lucas-Going, with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna Casey, and Anakin Xersonsky

Cooking method: Mixing, mending, and simmering

Dear m/others,

We meet again amidst another (but ongoing and building) rupture of enormous awareness and structural change. Jenna Wortham writes in A ‘Glorious Poetic Rage (5 June 2020, NY times, 10 min read) “this is the biggest collective demonstration of civil unrest around state violence in our generation’s memory. The unifying theme, for the first time in America’s history, is at last: Black Lives Matter.” Not only in the United States alone, the surge of solidarity protests and initiatives in The Netherlands and abroad against anti-blackness proves to show this is a global reality. Black liberation movement, leadership and organizing undoubtedly influences our envisioning for the All about my mother study group and the making of our recipe for another kind of institution. In many ways, we already have tools and resources in our kitchen and pantry which informs this. Since we are at a point where the ingredients are being mixed in order to be transformed towards the final presentation, let us take some time together to slow down and study with Black feminist poetic thought and life, transformative justice, grief and healing; decide on our recipe(s) to move forward with; and refine our understanding of the substance that makes an anti-racist, trans-inclusive, accessible, matriarchal institution.

We will meet twice on Zoom (Monday and Tuesday evenings in our schedule) and for the rest of the activities the idea is to engage with them together but separately/remotely. However, shift them around consciously within your schedule if there are other opportunities to participate in direct action and organising at this time.

Learn more:

https://m4bl.org/

Check out more information from the organizations and initiatives in The Netherlands:

Black Lives Matter NL

Kick Out Zwart Piet
Control Alt Delete

Nederland wordt Beter

Lilith Magazine


*This title is borrowed from the film HOME IS WHERE THE WORK STARTS 1988 by our guest G Lucas-Going 

SUNDAY 13th JUNE

We will all devote 3 hours of our day for the following activities/exercises:

Practice: Hips Yoga with Jessamyn Stanley (24 minutes)

Practice: Reach out to a trusted friend or ally (must be a non Black comrade) to connect with and share your thoughts, feelings, questions, challenges, observations about the recent response to the systemic racism, police brutality, and demand for justice in the US and around the world and scheme up some ideas and actions that the two of you can commit to regarding anti-racism practice and dismantling white supremacy, wherever you are.

Options: 1) Schedule a date and time with this person for this special, generative meeting (approximately an hour) over video or audio call, or safe distance . If conditions permit, go on an hour long walk for this phone conversation. Or 2) Begin correspondence with this friend by writing a letter and invite them to respond back to you. Use the same amount of time (or longer) to write the letter. Take a walk to the maildrop or post office. (1 hour)

Afterwards, summarise some main points from this correspondence and do further research of the numerous resources being compiled right now and accessible online. Map actions, connections to individual and collective artistic practice, the roles of art that would be necessary for a m/other institution to be actively anti-racist. Think of how these could be cooking methods for our recipe(s), no matter what dish we are making. (1 hour)

MONDAY 15th JUNE

Morning: We will all devote 3 hours during the morning for the following activities & readings:

Practice: Yoga Sequence for Total Beginners  (30 minutes)

Readings:

https://mwasicollectif.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/angela-davis-autobiography.pdf

  • Gwendolyn Brooks, Riot, 1969, Broadside Press

http://eclipsearchive.org/projects/RIOT/Riot.pdf

Afternoon: We will all devote 3 hours to engage on the following exercises and readings:

Practice: meet on video or audio with your recipe proposal group to discuss the presentation for later in the evening. Share about your experience discussing anti-racism the night before and incorporate ingredients/methods to the recipe. (2 hours)

Reading: together with your recipe proposal group, read aloud to each other the text by ME O’Brien, Communizing Care, 15 October 2019, Pinko Magazine (1 hour)

In preparation for the evening, make the recipe that you know by heart. You can either eat before hand or bring it to the meeting, depending on your time.
Evening: 18.30 - 21.30

Location: Zoom

Group presentations of recipe proposals with Nina and Sepake discussion about how to move forward. During this time, we will touch on matters related to the final presentation, including coming together at some point in August.

Groups:

JT, Flavia, and Saskia

Mia, Litchi, and Csilla

Anakin, Emma, and Dayna

TUESDAY 16th JUNE

Morning: We will all devote 3 hours during the morning for the following activitie & readings:

Practice: Core Yoga with Jessamyn Stanley (19 min)

Readings: From e-flux journal issue 105: Loophole of Retreat, December 2019:

Listen: Okwui Okpokwasili, of wishing and superheroes  (audio at bottom of text)

Afternoon: We will all devote 3 hours to engage on the following exercises and readings:

Exercise:

Watch/listen:

Sayin’ It Louder: A conversation about “a good death” in a racist society. Online panel with five Black leaders in the death and dying space, including Alua Arthur, Joél Simone Anthony, Alice Forneret, Naomi Edmondson, Oceana Sawyer, Lashanna Williams. (1 hour and 25 minutes) webinar, link tbd

To get ready for the evening session with G Lucas-Going, we will engage with the following activities:

  1. Watch G Lucas-Going, ‘HOME IS WHERE THE WORK STARTS 1988’ (27 minutes)
  2. Prepare your own will (what do you consider important now? What do you want to leave behind? What can you leave behind? And has this changed?)
  3. Since we’ll start with dinner together, cook up a recipe to bring to our meeting. Consider foods and recipes that provide nutrition, comfort, and joy.

Evening: 18.30-21.30

Location: Zoom

Dinner and hangout with G Lucas-Going, artist, currently at Rijksakademie, and end-of-life doula.

During this evening session, we’ll share dinner and conversation together with G Lucas-Going, artist and current resident at Rijksakademie, and burgeoning end-of-life doula. We’ll discuss her artistic and doula practices respectively and the sensitivity to audio and visual material in the experience of dying. Along with our discussion, we’ll listen to a playlist from G, massage ourselves, and dance.  

WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE

Morning: We will all devote 1 and a half hour to engage on the following exercises and listenings:

Practice: Hip openers with Jessamyn Stanley (11 minutes)

Listen: Sustaining Ourselves When Confronting Violence (45 minutes)

Practice: Healing in Direct Action (17 minutes)


JULY HOMEWORK

During July we will all devote time to engage with the following activities (

Watch/listen: Hortense Spillers - Shades of Intimacy: Women in the Time of Revolution (1hour and 15 minutes)

Practice: Pods and Pod Mapping Worksheet by Mia Mingus for Bay Area Transformative Justice (approx. 2 hours)

 

Seminar 5: May 2020

8 April, 10:00-12:00: check-in after Tunis and at the start of the pandemic

14 May, 10:00-12:00: update on ingredients, lexicon, ideas for moving forward

18 May, 11:00-14:00: further individual research of ingredients - student working time

25 May, 11:00-14:00: group proposals for recipes using current ingredients - student working time

THURSDAY 14th May, 10:00-12:00

“Summoning a different way of being together: What makes these times any different for us?.” [1]

Cooks: Sepake Angiama, Nina bell F. (Staci Bu Shea, Binna Choi, Yolande van der Heide) with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna Casey, and Anakin Xersonsky.

Cooking method: fermentation, brewing

If the coronavirus lockdown calls for a kind of re-envisioning or re-worlding that is informed by structural change rooted in daily practice, how do we take stock of this in All about my mother as we move towards a final presentation? Can we forecast out the possibilities of what’s to come? What in turn is required of us and more to the purpose of the course to self-determine ways of being together in refusal of predetermined modes, how do our respective brewing ingredients and collective cooking practices reflect the already gathered lessons from the pandemic be they care practices (as informed by those whose lives are made even more vulnerable by the crisis); support and solidarity practices, or reflection.

This is not to be abstract, indeed there are tangible examples that most of us are involved in, such as The Post Structural Student Task Force, in a common effort to refigure the school. Our forthcoming gathering thus takes inspiration from such modes of self-organisation and leans on our already identified cooking method of fermentation or brewing as a metaphor in order to pay homage, personalise (make context specific), check in and preserve ingredients in the making as to address:

  • Who if anyone are our respective and collective ingredients caring for, which people, neighbours or classmates do we wish to reach and exchange with?
  • Who or what are the ingredients in solidarity with?
  • And what (institutional) practices are you each reflecting on, if applicable?

10:00-10:10    Landing, check in

10:10-11:10     Briefly sharing ingredients and update with latest reflections

(see Tunis homework*):

  • Reflections on the feedback and what if anything has changed in lieu of coronavirus lockdown?

11:10-11:40     Update on lexicon terms gathered in Are.na

  • How can this be figured for a publication, is a publication still relevant? If so what could the after or social life of the publication be? Consider the reading / watching list **

11:40-11:50     Define and refine collective presentation

  • Ultimately what to cook, what is the recipe, it’s ingredients and method? COOP SUMMIT form (launch, festival or otherwise) tentatively 1August
  • Decide on dates for next sessions - early June, July, and score for final presentation on or offline in the flesh in July or August in a yet to be determined “safe” location

11:50-12:00     Homework & close

  • What can we read / listen to together in smaller groups until the next collective meeting? 

MONDAY 18 May 11:00 - 14:00

11:00-11:30    Hello and landing

  • Check-in and update on plan
  • Which video platform will we use? Zoom, microsoft teams, jitsi
  • Set up doodle for June meeting

11:30-14:00    Further individual research of ingredients - student working time

MONDAY 25 May 11:00 - 14:00

11:00-11:30    Hello and landing

  • Check-in and update on plan
  • Confirm group arrangement for creating recipe proposals
  • Confirm June dates for next meeting

11:30-14:00    Group proposals for recipes using current ingredients - student working time

*Tunis homework

Publication

  • Continue with lexicon of terms in groups, (3 words per group, -/+ 150 words per definition)
  • Flávia, Litchi, Anakin + Dayna, Saskia + Mia, JT + Cscilla, Emma.
  • Be prepared to present defined terms at the next DAI gathering. The terms should be updated here on our Arena page: https://www.are.na/all-about-my-mother
  • Think about the purpose and after / social life of this book where one component of it is the lexicon.

Ingredient. Based on the given feedback, research your presented ingredient further.

  • Consider: instructions, frame, props, setting, presence etc. (How could this function at a distance in our “1.5 meter society”)
  • Be prepared to present your ingredient again and to those that are not yet familiar with it.
  • Dayna in charge of organizing Arena (and has done so!!) All to make use of it i.e updating lexicon and ingredients
  • Mia, Saskia, Dayna and JT to scout locations in Arnhem for the final presentation. Consider domestic spaces, parks, the school’s amenities *this point is obsolete
  • In relation to Budget: think about any props or equipment that you might need for the final presentation

** Reading & listening material

[1] The title of the session is given to us by artist Ola Hussananin, in her yet unpublished text Promissory Notes, which captures snippets of exchanges with colleagues, friends, and family during COVID in the quest to make sense of and pull from existing knowledges:

A conversation ensued between us in a dim lighted room. We argued over how we can cultivate spaces of self-determination, agency and the places conditions in which such spaces can be identified under the pandemic…. We sit around in a circle,... shoulder to shoulder; the air is heavy, and the scent of fresh brewed tea fills the gaps in between our bodies. I speak so well, and I say:

“This discussion requires that we collectively recognise the dilemma in using contaminated words like ‘solidarity’ and ‘together’ and address the presumed neutrality about the places from which power can collectively form. What makes the current calls for collective movement seem like a promissory note? Maybe because there have been times in our histories where people managed to collectivise, come together only to  face the State’s terror as powerless individuals. What makes these times any different for us?...“

 

Seminar 3 & 4: 10 - 17 March 2020

The shore could have been the embodiment of reception [1]

For your journey to Tunis, our host Aziza Harmel has selected the following ingredients: two poems, songs concerning Mother-land—a term taken from our common lexicon of ingredients and chosen as the working theme of this gathering—and an audio recording to help prepare for our meetings at the Palazzo (Aziza, Yesmine and Moez’s place). We will question how our ingredients engage with different geographies and localities, so as to address and be conscious of what we are taking when moving from one place to the next. 

Ommi (my mother), a poem by Mahmoud Darwich. The song rendition found at the above link is by Marcel Khalife.

Ommi

Dearly I yearn for my mother’s bread,

My mother’s coffee,

Mother’s brushing touch.

Childhood is raised in me,

Day upon day in me.

And I so cherish life

Because if I died

My mother’s tears would shame me.

Set me, if I return one day,

As a shawl on your eyelashes, let your hand

Spread grass out over my bones,

Christened by your immaculate footsteps

As on holy land.

Fasten us with a lock of hair, 

With thread strung from the back of your dress.

I could grow into godhood

Commend my spirit into godhood

If I but touch your heart’s deep breath.

Set me, if ever I return,

In your oven as fuel to help you cook,

On your roof as a clothesline stretched in your hands.

Weak without your daily prayers,

I can no longer stand.

I am old

Give me back the stars of childhood

That I may chart the homeward quest

Back with the migrant birds,

Back to your awaiting nest.

Takkbbar (pride yourself), a poem by Mahmoud Darwich. Listen to the song rendition by Oumaima El Khalil at the above link.

Takkbbar 

Pride yourself... Be proud!

Even with your disdain,

You will remain an angel in my eyes and in my flesh.

You will stay as my love has decided that I will see you

Your breath is like amber,

The ground that you lay on is like honey,

And I’ll love you more.

Your hands are trees

But I don’t sing

Like other nightingales

 

Because the chains

Taught me how to fight

Fight... and fight again,

Because I only love you more

My songs are daggers made out of your roses

My silence is a childhood of thunder

And blood lily.

My heart,

You are the firmament and the sky

And your heart is green

And the undertow of love is your sea

How, wouldn’t I love you more?

You are just as my love wanted me to see you:

Your breath is amber,

Honey is the ground you lay on

And your heart is green…!

And I am the child of your love

On your soothing lap, I grow

 

Further ingredients:

  • From the Casco Art Institute archive: 
    • They Have Thrown the Scouts in the Sea, by Aziza Harmel, published as part of Publishing Class: How to Live Together, 2013
  •  Reading & listening material: 
    • Introduction from Lose your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route,Saidiya Harman, 2008 
    • Namibia Gupta Wiggers in As Radical, As Mother, As Salad, As Shelter: What Should Art Institutions Do Now?

Cooks: Aziza Harmel, Sepake Angiama, Nina bell F. (Yolande van der Heide) with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna Casey, and Anakin Xersonsky.

 

[1] The title of the session is given to us by Aziza Harmel, through her conversations with Christian Nyampeta (also tutor to the former DAI COOP Publishing Class: How to Live Together). In conversation she shared: “I am thinking about hospitality in a place where mobile people are not welcome… and Tunis is the highest point to Europe so it is where Africans go to in order to cross into Europe, same goes for Libya, Morocco… But North Africa is a very racist place so talking about Pan Africanism here, for example, is tricky because though there is a history of this things are different now.”  

Seminar 2: 26 - 29 January 2020

Title: Collective kitchens as common practices

Cooks: Nina bell F. (Annette Krauss, Binna Choi, Ying Que, Yolande van der Heide) and Mari Pitkänen with Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Dayna, and Anakin Xersonsky

Ingredients:

-       Politics as Experimentation Practices, an essay by Alana Moraes *(we ask that you read this beforehand), 2019

-        Things from the project Site for Unlearning (Art Organizations) (2014-2018): the 2018 publication Unlearning Exercises: Art Organizations as Sites for Unlearning, edited by Binna Choi, Annette Krauss, Yolande van der Heide with Liz Allan; and the 2018 and 2019 Assemblies for Commoning Art Institutions

-    Ingredients carried over from the last session including embodied objects or things

-      Yet to be defined words from the Commons Lexicon: wisdom, social reproduction, study (collective), m(other), archive, cooking, sharing economy, recipe, neurodiversity, currency, Undercommons and fermentation

Method:

The second All about my mother gathering departs from Alana Moraes’ talk entitled “Politics as Experimentation Practices” presented at Casa de Povo’s program Studies of the Commons whereby she expounds upon the notion of the commons with the metaphor of the kitchen as a laboratory for experimentation and knowledge making. She writes: “collective kitchens as common practices continue to defy binarisms, the authorized productions of truth.” In turn, the COOP gathering calls upon its “cooks” to inhabit this notion–including singularities, pluralities and complexities–to add and unpack our developing ingredients list in the shared quest to imagine and actualise transgressive modes that upset existing binaries towards m/other ways of being together.

The gathering is further informed by the Casco Art Institute archive as embodied Nina bell F. Considering the origin of Nina, we’ll draw the ingredients from the long-term project and study trajectory Site for Unlearning (Art Organization) to focus on the two major public moments for commoning art institutions in the project. First, the Elephants in the Room Assembly in 2018 that inaugurated the project’s book Unlearning Exercises: Art Organizations as Sites for Unlearning and questioned how art institutions can relate to the challenge of unlearning, especially where the distribution of power is concerned. And second, Our House is On Fire [has been on fire for over 500 years] Assembly in 2019, which sought to create a climate justice code for art institutions in response to the climate breakdown. 

Carrying this further with Moraes’ metaphorical kitchen, we will work through notions of structural habits and unlearning, embodiment and memory, as well as the prompt: Where does your institution’s food come from? 

 

Seminar 1: 1-4 December 2019

1. Recipe : How shall we come together?

Cooking Time: 1-4 December

Ingredients: Alzad - a word of Arabic origin that refers to preparing food for the one who you do not expect to meet on your journey.

Cooks: Sepake Angiama, Nina bell Federici. (Staci Bu Shea), Mia van de Bos, Saskia Burggraaf, Emma de Filippo, Litchi Friedrich, Jiatu Gu, Csilla Klenyanszki, Flávia Palladino, Sophie de Serière, Matthew Wang, Anakin Xersonsky.

 

Dear All about my mother participants,

We are honoured that you have chosen to be our co-thinkers, collaborators, co-oks, co-operators and co-pilots. For each of our cooking sessions we would like to draw upon the mixture of all of your ingredients. Through the mess, the cooking methods and testing out of different equipment we hope to make a collective study that addresses how we might be able to institute differently, by looking back on the Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons archive, sharing and analysing readings, somatic unlearning exercises and collective forms of knowledge production.

What do we carry with us when we move from one location to another? How can we prepare for these moments of togetherness? How do we prepare for unexpected guests and unknown revelations?

2. Preparations

For our first session we would like to ask you to think about how we should come together. Which ingredient will you bring to help us reflect on the conditions that we wish to create for our collective study? You can bring a reading, an object, an activity, a song, an exercise, a film… the possibilities are endless. This ingredient is situated in your practice and will be something you wish to bring to the group that we can experience collectively. Please prepare the introduction of your ingredient and try to think through the ways that we might also be able to understand its characteristic qualities. Further, consider how your ingredient would travel or be introduced when encountering different locations and (guest) tutors.

If your ingredient is immaterial, please consider if you could bring a symbolic representation of your ingredient or whether we could experience the ingredient through an exercise or embodiment. How would you introduce yourself and your interest in this ingredient?

The first seminar of All about my mother will be led by Sepake Angiama and Staci Bu Shea of Nina bell F., who will introduce the outline, background, and intentions to build a recipe together in our COOP. This introductory gathering will set into motion a way of working towards the type of institution at stake in this course: one that transgresses existing binaries towards institutions that allows for m/other ways of being that is with singularities, pluralities and complexities.

We will define key terms in order to form a common lexicon, share initial ingredients, and begin to establish our “pantry and refrigerator” to be used as our nomadic facility. This session will primarily focus on student participant presentations and discussion to learn how our individual practices will inform the collective recipe-making.

Looking forward,
Sepake and Staci of Nina bell F.

 

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