WCCW and CARLA present: Rethinking Structures Book Club

April 24, 2021: Erin Christovale
No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to My Colleagues — Sylvia Wynter

The Rethinking Structures Book Club focuses on the intersections of social justice and art world justice. We use art as a gateway into social justice, and social justice as a lens to rethink the art world. Each guest is a leader in the L.A. art community and will select a reading to present and discuss with the group.

Erin Christovale is the associate curator at the Hammer museum and the co-founder of Black Radical Imagination.

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.

Past Events:

Saturday, March 20, 1–2:30pm PST: Cassils & rafa esparza: Selected readings from the In Plain Sight reader
Hosted by: WCCW and CARLA
Free

The Rethinking Structures Book Club focuses on the intersections of social justice and art world justice. We use art as a gateway into social justice, and social justice as a lens to rethink the art world. Each guest is a leader in the L.A. art community and will select a reading to present and discuss with the group.

Our March session, led by performance artists Cassils and rafa esparza, will be centered around the In Plain Sight Reader, which includes selected essays and excerpts from Audre Lorde, Edouard Glissant, Linda Tuhiwai Te Rina Smith, Will Rawls and Thomas Lax. 

The reader was compiled for a class called “Art, Activism, Modernity” that Cassils co-taught with Jessica Posner at Syracuse University in Fall of 2020. This class exclusively featured artists who collaborated on the In Plain Sight public artwork, which was initiated by Cassils and rafa esparza in July 2020 and is dedicated to the abolition of immigrant detention and the United States culture of incarceration. These readings engage the practices of a diverse group of artists whose practices critically, thoughtfully, and beautifully engage intersectional struggles of our time.

rafa  esparza  (b.  1981,  Los  Angeles;  lives  and  works  in  Los  Angeles)  is  a  multidisciplinary  artist whose  work  reveals  his  interests  in  history,  personal  narratives,  and  kinship,  his  own relationship  to  colonization  and  the  disrupted  genealogies  that  it  produces.  Using  live performance  as  his  main  form  of  inquiry,  esparza  employs  site-specificity,  materiality,  memory, and  what  he  calls  (non)documentation  as  primary  tools  to  investigate  and  expose  ideologies, power  structures,  and  binary  forms  of  identity  that  establish  narratives,  history,  and  social environments.  esparza’s  recent  projects  are  grounded  in  laboring  with  land  and  adobe-making, a  skill  learned  from  his  father,  Ramón  Esparza.  In  so  doing,  the  artist  invites  Brown  and  Queer cultural  producers  to  realize  large-scale  collective  projects,  gathering  people  together  to  build networks  of  support  outside  of  traditional  art  spaces.

esparza  is  a  recipient  of  the  Rema  Hort  Mann  Foundation  Emerging  Artist  Grant  (2015), California  Community  Foundation  Fellowship  for  Visual  Arts  (2014),  and  Art  Matters  Foundation grant  (2014).  Solo  exhibitions  have  been  held  at  MASS  MoCA,  North  Adams,  MA  (2019); ArtPace,  San  Antonio,  TX  (2018);  Atkinson  Gallery,  Santa  Barbara,  CA  (2017);  Ballroom  Marfa, TX  (2017);  Los  Angeles  Contemporary  Exhibitions,  CA  (2015);  Bowtie  Project,  Los  Angeles (2015);  and  Vincent  Price  Art  Museum,  Monterey  Park,  CA  (2013).  esparza  has  performed  at  art institutions  including  Performance  Space  New  York  and  the  Ellipse,  Washington,  D.C.  (2019); Institute  of  Contemporary  Art,  Los  Angeles  (2018);  Museum  of  Contemporary  Art,  Los  Angeles (2018);  the  Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York  (2017);  Hammer  Museum,  Los  Angeles (2016);  and  Clockshop,  Bowtie  Project,  Los  Angeles  (2014).  Selected  group  shows  were  held  at San  Diego Art  Institute,  CA  (2019);  DiverseWorks,  Houston,  TX  (2019);  Craft  Contemporary,  Los Angeles  (2019);  GAMMA  Galeria,  Guadalajara,  Mexico  (2019);  Bemis  Center  for  Contemporary Art,  Omaha,  NV  (2017);  Whitney  Museum  of  American  Art,  New  York  (2017);  LA><ART,  CA (2017);  PARTICIPANT,  INC.,  New  York  (2016);  Hammer  Museum,  Los  Angeles  (2016);  Armory Center  for  the  Arts,  Pasadena  (2015);  and  Human  Resources,  Los  Angeles  (2013).

Cassils is a transgender artist who makes their own body the material and protagonist of their performances. Cassils’s art contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and survival. For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture: Drawing from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to forces of power and social expectations, Cassils work investigates historical contexts to examine the present moment.

Cassils has had recent solo exhibitions at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NYC; Institute for Contemporary Art, AU; Bemis Center for Contemporary Art; Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts; School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Bemis Center, Omaha; MU Eindhoven, Netherlands. They are the recipient of a 2020 Fleck Residency from the Banff Center for the Arts, a Princeton Lewis Artist Fellowship finalist (2020), a Villa Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (2019), a United States Artist Fellowship (2018), a Guggenheim Fellowship and a COLA Grant (2017) and a Creative Capital Award (2015). They have received the inaugural ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art, California Community Foundation Grant, MOTHA (Museum of Transgender Hirstory) award, and numerous Visual Artist Fellowships from the Canada Council of the Arts. Their work has been featured in New York Times, Boston Globe, Artfourm, Hyperallergic, Wired, The Guardian, TDR, Performance Research, Art Journal and was the subject of the monograph Cassils published by MU Eindhoven 92015) and their new catalogue Solutions, is published by the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, TX (2020).

Saturday, February 27, 1–2:30pm PST
Hosted by: WCCW and CARLA
Free

The Rethinking Structures Book Club will focus on the intersections of social justice and art world justice. We will use art as a gateway into social justice, and social justice as a lens to rethink the art world. Each guest is a leader in the L.A. art community and will select a reading to present and discuss with the group.

The second session is led by Nikita Gale, an LA-based artist whose recent work considers the role of audience as a social arena and examines the ways in which silence and noise function as political positions and conditions. Gale will be leading a discussion on the Foreword to June Jordan’s Civil Wars, which Gale reads once a season: “It’s a perfect summation of everything she was about: standing up after getting your asskicked; not being annihilated by sexism, racism, and homophobia; remembering to imagine what it is that you want.”

Nikita Gale is an artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. Gale holds a BA in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeological Studies from Yale University and earned an MFA in New Genres at UCLA. Gale’s practice is often structured by long-term obsessions with specific objects and the ways these objects gesture towards particular social and political histories. Gale uses ubiquitous consumer technologies as frameworks to consider how individuals potentially reproduce their relationships to objects within their relationships to psychic space and political, social, and economic systems. For Gale, the term “reproduction” is as much a mechanical, technical process as it is a process rooted in sex, biology and the organic. Gale’s recent work considers the role of audience as a social arena and examines the ways in which silence and noise function as political positions and conditions.

Gale’s work has recently been exhibited at MoMA PS1 (New York); LACE (Los Angeles); Commonwealth and Council (Los Angeles); Matthew Marks Gallery (Los Angeles); The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York); Rodeo Gallery (London); Ceysson & Benetiere (Paris); and in “Made in L.A. 2018” at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles). Gale’s work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Art21, AQNB, Frieze, Vogue, and Flash Art. Nikita currently serves on the Board of Directors for GREX, the west coast affiliate of the AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems.

Sunday, January 30, 1–2:30pm PST
Hosted by: WCCW and CARLA
Free

The Rethinking Structures Book Club will focus on the intersections of social justice and art world justice. We will use art as a gateway into social justice, and social justice as a lens to rethink the art world. Each guest is a leader in the L.A. art community and will select a reading to present and discuss with the group. Together, we will discuss pathways forward that focus on community and care. The first session of this four-part program will feature Ceci Moss, and discuss As Radical, As Mother, As Salad, As Shelter: What Should Art Institutions Do Now?

As radical, as mother, as salad, as shelter: What should art institutions do now? compiles responses to a survey distributed to curators, museum directors, artists, and writers in the wake of Trump’s election to office,  and it asks big picture questions about the role and value of art institutions during a crisis. One question in the survey is simply “How can art institutions be better?” As we move into a new presidency and new year in 2021, I’m hoping we can revisit this text as a jumping point to imagine new, visionary forms of arts organizations, going far beyond “better” into the entirely revolutionary.” –Ceci Moss 

Ceci Moss is a curator, writer and educator based in Los Angeles, USA. She is the founder of Gas, a mobile, autonomous, experimental and networked platform for contemporary art. Her academic research addresses contemporary internet-based art practice and network culture. Her first book Expanded Internet Art: Twenty-First Century Artistic Practice and the Informational Milieu is released through the Bloomsbury series International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics. Her writing has appeared in Rhizome, Art in America, ArtAsiaPacific, Artforum, The Wire, CURA, New Media & Society and various art catalogs. Previously, she was Assistant Curator of Visual Arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Senior Editor of the art and technology non-profit arts organization Rhizome, and Special Projects Coordinator at the New Museum. She is currently a Lecturer in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts and she has held teaching positions at University of Southern California, Scripps College, the San Francisco Art Institute and New York University.