I haven’t figured out whether 2016 was an unusually rough year or, if, because I’m older and more aware, things simply seem to be going the way that all things do at a faster clip. Either way, I’m internally if not (thankfully) externally battered in a way that I haven’t felt since 1980-81. I was recently told that I’ve been nostalgic, and perhaps I have been. However, I would describe the tenor of my mood as elegiac. I’ll leave it at that.
In the spring, MCAD Library Director Amy Naughton Becker uploaded to MCAD’s Digital Collections my revised MFA thesis. Now more than ever, that document serves as a blueprint for my actions in the world as a community member. In particular since the election, the following paragraph has been ringing in my head:
The intersection of community and citizenship is central to the thinking that supports my practice. Communities share physical places and spaces like cities and conceptual places and spaces like ethnic or gendered identities that affect community members’ lived experiences in predictable patterns. For me, ‘place’ is denotative and indicates an intention to ‘fix’ where ‘space’ is connotative and indicates ‘flexibility’. Thus, ‘Toronto’ simultaneously refers to the location of and carries ideas about the experience of that Canadian city. Likewise, in North America, ‘Black’ typically refers to both people like me who have/appear to have/claim indigenous sub-Saharan African ancestry and expresses ideas about experiences related to my race. Acts of citizenship are intended to publicly negotiate for community members the experience of these shared places/spaces. By excerpting, excluding, annotating, or otherwise altering them, I ponder the influence of the patterns or narratives of these shared places/spaces on community members’ lived experiences. Indeed, I have come to think of my work as comprised of acts of citizenship within my various communities.
I worked long and hard to define these ideas of place and space and to articulate the connection between my work and my notion of citizenship. It isn’t perfect (my thesis could use a good editor), but I stand by this statement.
With these thoughts in mind, I look forward to 2017…