Artist In Residence: CASSANDRA Classrooms at WCCW

We’re thrilled to introduce you to our latest artist in residence, CASSANDRA Press! As part of this residency, CASSANDRA Press is bringing their Classrooms to WCCW. In March, we opened applications for four riveting and rigorous courses that will meet on-goingly throughout March and April. 

Each classroom will be led by incredible artists and educators who are sharing vital knowledge and inviting participants into generative investigations. While participation in classrooms will be limited, each course will include share-outs or publications that allow the public to engage in these interrogations. We’re also looking forward to printing limited-edition readers and posters that you’ll want to get your hands on — more info on that soon.

Note: For digital security purposes, Zoom links will be sent to all registrants the day-of the event. If for any reason, you don’t receive the Zoom link in the hour preceding the event — email programs@wccw.us.

This classroom was built to give space to artists from across the diaspora to present themselves and work they may not have shared through their primary art medium — instead, we’ll see them through the medium of experimental lecture-performance. Here, the term diaspora refers to the mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories, for example the removal of Africans through slavery, and most recently the migration, exile, and refugees of the Middle East. We’ll be joined by artists, writers, and performers from across the diaspora to engage, via the digital, in natural inquiry and critical thought.

A series of 8 experimental performance lectures delivered weekly by different artists every week on Friday, starting 3/26, from 10-11am PST.

Rhea Dillon is an artist, writer and poet based in London. Using video, installation, photography, painting & olfaction she examines and abstracts her intrigue of the ‘rules of representation’ to undermine contemporary Western culture. She is particularly interested in the self coined phrase ‘humane afrofuturism’ as a practice of bringing forward the humane and equality-led perspectives on how we visualise Black bodies. Her work has been exhibited at The British Film Institute, London; Mimosa House, London; Blank 100, London; Red Hook Labs, New York; Aperture Gallery, New York; Red Bull Film Festival, Los Angeles; & Sanam Archive, Accra Ghana. She is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, London. Follow Rhea and her work on Instagram at @rheadillon and @lectureperforma.

Past Lectures:

March 26: Rhea Dillon

April 2: Eric N. Mack

April 16: Dachi Cole

April 23: Abbas Zahedi

April 30: Nikita Gale

May 7: Kobby Adi

May 14: Dominique White

May 21: S*an D. Henry-Smith

Song. Prayer. Scream. A Praxis Of Looking is a writing workshop that asks us to consider the ways artists offer pathways of escape from everyday oppressions—sites of pleasure outside expected forms of work, gender, family and desire.

Each week, critics Yaniya Lee and Jessica Lynne will post a pre-recorded conversation that traces their thinking and questions around Blackness & Modernity, Black Technologies, Sousveillance, Repair & Healing & Pleasure. Theory, visual art, poetry, literature and music guide them through considerations of art criticism and new expansive ways of seeing.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Amber Jamila Musser, Aria Dean, Harmony Holiday,  Edouard Glissant, M. Nourbese Phillip, Simone Browne and Sylvia Wynter, among others, act as Song. Prayer. Scream’s northstars.

You will be invited to respond to writing prompts and post related texts, art, video clips, poems, and songs to the Song. Prayer. Scream are.na page. Lynne and Lee will hold weekly office hours for talk back sessions to ask questions, discuss responses to workshop prompts, and continue the conversation.

Details:

  • A writing workshop taught in 5 weekly nodes
  • Pre-recorded sessions will drop every Monday at 9 am PST/noon EST on Are.na
  • Weekly office hours on Fridays at 11 am PST/2 pm EST via Zoom and are reserved for registered students
  • Video lectures and resource materials are available to the public on the are.na page
  • Participation in office hours is limited to 6 registered students

How it works:

Each session of this writing workshop will include a pre-recorded session that drops on Mondays, starting on 3/22, along with a collective resource database, for example on Blackness and Modernity. These will be hosted on are.na and are open to the public. Registered students will then meet at the end of the week during office hours, on Fridays at 11 am PST/2 pm EST via Zoom.

Instructor bios:

Yaniya Lee is a writer and editor interested in the ethics of aesthetics. Lee has written for Vogue, Flash, FADER, Vulture, VICE Motherboard, Canadian Art and C Magazine. She was a founding collective member of MICE Magazine and is presently a member of the EMILIA-AMALIA working group, which was artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario in the summer in 2017. Lee has participated in residencies at Banff (2017), the Blackwood Gallery (2018), Gallery 44 (2018) and Vtape (2019-2020). In November 2019, Lee and curator Denise Ryner co-convened the Bodies, Borders, Fields Symposium in Toronto. The 3-day series of workshops, performances and talks revisited a 1967 roundtable conversation from artscanada magazine on the theme of “black.” The next year, Lee and Ryner guest-edited Chroma an issue of Canadian Art magazine, dedicated entirely to black artists and black art histories. Lee was previously on the editorial advisory committees for Fuse and C Magazine, and she now sits on the board of directors of Mercer Union. Lee teaches Art Criticism at the University of Toronto and  is Senior editor-at-large at Canadian Art magazine. Follow Yaniya on Instagram @yaniyalee.

Jessica Lynne is a writer and art critic. She is a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism from Black perspectives. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Art in America, The Believer, Frieze,The Nation, and elsewhere.  She is the recipient of a 2020 Research and Development award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and 2020 Arts Writer Grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation. She is currently at work on a collection of essays about faith, art, and the U.S. South. Jessica lives and works in coastal Virginia. Find her online at @lynne_bias.

Black Err/Or explores drafts, punctuation, revision, and black feminist poetics. In this class, we’ll discuss process, practice, and criticism as it pertains to the creative exploration of black interior life. Through “Err/Or” we immerse ourselves in worlds of our own, pursue lines of thought with no discernable end, and wade in ambivalence. Each class will be a different discussion topic and corresponding activity to explore students’ work. 

Details:

  • A writing workshop in 6 weekly sessions
  • Classroom sessions meet on Wednesdays, starting on 3/24, from 12pm-2pm PST
  • This classroom is limited to 10 registered students
  • Documentation and annotations from class sessions will be publicly available

How it works:

Each week, instructors will assign texts and images to study for the Wednesday classroom session. Registered students will bring drafts or drafting material that they’re working on so they can discuss various pathways they may pursue through the material. During classroom sessions, participants will co-annotate works with instructors on Zoom.

Instructor bios:

Derrais (pronounced like Paris) Carter is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist. He teaches courses on Black Critical Theory, Black Popular Music, and Black Queer Studies. Currently, he is completing two scholarly monographs. The first, provisionally titled Obscene Material: Erasing Black Girlhood in the Moens Scandal examines the erasure of Black girls’ voices during a 1919 obscenity scandal in Washington, D.C. Building on approaches from Christina Sharpe and Saidiya Hartman, Obscene Material mounts an “anti-recovery” project to re-tell the story of the scandal while providing visual and ethical strategies for circumventing the narration of gratuitous anti-black violence. The second book, co-authored with Andres Guzman, is a study of race and patriarchy in contemporary popular culture titled Patriarchal Blackness. Carter’s creative practice includes art books, experimental essays, and micro-essays. Guiding his creative process is a persistent desire to use archival texts and Black critical theory to narrate and engage Black life. He is currently completing black girls: an archive with Sharita Towne. This unbound art book is a 10in x 10in x 10in cube containing poems written from the imagined perspective of Black girls in the Moens Scandal. Carter is also a member of the Queering Slavery Working Group, a scholarly collective that uses social media and “formal” scholarly venues to place the history of slavery in conversation with Black sexuality studies and queer of color critique. Follow Carter on Instagram @derraiscarter.

Anya Wallace received a Dual Ph.D. in Art Education and Women’s Studies in 2019. In addition to her scholarship, she is a visual artist – with a concentration in black and white photography and painting. She received a BA from Agnes Scott College in Studio Art and Spanish and studied Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work in photography is shaped by a desire to visually narrate the stories of Black girlhood. She has worked in the service of girls through program and curriculum development with the Girl Scouts of the USA (Savannah, GA) and recently as director of MOCA, North Miami’s Women on the Rise! Outreach program for girls.

This course rejects the European modernist origin myth of abstraction in favor of a wider historical lineage. We look at specific examples as well as philosophical implications of pursuing this alternative lineage.

Modernism colonizes an always, already Black and brown, non-autonomous, socially-embedded, and functional abstraction. To pursue an alternative is not only to thicken our description of Western aesthetics, but also to surface, honor, and draw from strategies of resistance then and now. 

As a class, we will generate a group text reflecting on the material. Meshing our voices in an intersubjective struggle for meaning will allow us to explore Aria Dean’s notion of the “generic” as a refusal of enlightenment binaries like individual/collective, figuration/abstraction. We’ll engage work by the following: John Akomfrah, Aria Dean, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Alexandria Eregbu, Saidiya Hartman, J. Lorand Matory, Legacy Russell, Hortense Spillers, Vincent Woodward.

Details:

  • A 6-week art history workshop taught through lecture and interactive sessions 
  • Classrooms meet weekly on Wednesdays, starting 3/24, from 4-6pm PST
  • This classroom is limited to 45 registered participants, but the first lecture in the series will be open to the public 

How it works:

Registered students will be assigned pre-recorded lectures and reading materials from the instructor in preparation for weekly discussion sessions. Discussion sessions will meet on Zoom, where students will sometimes be divided into smaller breakout rooms, and collaborative writing and reflection will take place on Google Docs.

Instructor bio:

manuel arturo abreu (b. 1991, Santo Domingo) is a poet and artist from the Bronx. abreu works in text, moving image, ephemeral sculpture, and what is at hand in a process of magical thinking with attention to ritual aspects of aesthetics. They have written two books of poetry and one book of critical theory, and also compose club-feasible worship as Tabor Dark, with eleven releases to date. Follow manuel and their memes on Instagram at @mabreu91 & @orthocucc.