CEE | Center for Experimental Ethnography
A blog of the Center for Experimental Ethnography
Margit Edwards, Lecturer in Theatre Arts, and a Doctoral candidate in Theatre and Performance at The Graduate Center, CUNY, her research interests include 20th & 21st century Africana theatre and performance, theories of coloniality/modernity, and transcultural African dance dramaturgy. She has been a Fellow with the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and Caribbean (IRADAC) and a recipient of the Dean K. Harrison Fellowship. Ms. Edwards comes from a African diaspora dance background with her early post doctoral training in dance ethnography. Her upcoming projects include directing a play by Eisa Davis called “Bulrusher”, a black arts movement class focused on theater and performance, and is involved in a retrospective showcase of the work of poet Jane Cortez that will be showing at the Amant Foundation in Brooklyn, NY.
Title: Untitled Ring (2022) [Pictured above and below]
Her work is informed by personal experiences in medical centers and their surrounding communities. Daniela studies adultification, in which Black youth are perceived as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers. She works alongside young Black women and girls to explore untapped tools to further equip these same youth to thrive. Through this, she works to counter the narrative of adultification while also allowing young Black girls, through story and image, to have agency in their own representation. Important to her work is ensuring Black girls are able to tell their own stories and their voices be heard and celebrated in academic spaces. To do this, Daniela has partnered with members in the Center of Experimental Ethnography to use innovative multimodal approaches to highlight these voices and expand their reach.
Gabrielle Goliath, a South African artist and a familiar collaborator with the Center for Experimental Ethnography, opened her first U.S exhibition at Dallas Contemporary in September. The multimedia installation is curated by Emily Edwards, and carries forward Goliath's larger practice that centers around "the life work of mourning". At Dallas Contemporary, this takes the form of an immersive installation of "Chorus", a 23-minute audio-visual piece honoring victims of gender-based violence in South Africa and featuring a performance by The University of Cape Town choir. Participants are encouraged to linger in the exhibition space, where two videos are projected onto large, free-standing blocks positioned in relation to each other.
In its first showing, the work recalled the names of 463 victims of an epidemic of violence against women, children and LGBTIQ people in South Africa. on a commemorative roll within the exhibition space, covering the period of August 2019 to August 2021, now updated through August 2022 to bring the list to 680 named individuals for its Dallas presentation. This exhibit remembers these individuals, creating “not the spectacle of violence through which black, brown, femme, and queer bodies are routinely fixed, but rather a space for community, for relational encounter, and – hopefully – for a transformative work of mourning"---Gabrielle Goliath
In November 2020, Gabrielle Goliath screened her piece "Elegy" at the Center for Experimental Ethnography as part of a Third Thursday panel, "Memorializing Otherwise," with Ken Lum and Deborah Anzinger.
Breach: A portolan of multimodal practice by CEE 2019 cOURSE DEVELOPMENT Winner Grace Sanders Johnson
Juan Castrillón is the Gilbert Seldes Multimodal Postdoctoral Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on analytics of listening, world-building practices, and contemporary healing arts in Anatolia, Turkey; the Northwest Amazon in Colombia; and Philadelphia. He creates experimental ethnography as a performative response to contemporary debates in the academy. He uses filmmaking to develop a cinematic language that is respectful of Indigenous perspectives but also open to contemporary debates on gender and critical race theory. Castrillón’s work has been published in academic journals, and exhibited at film festivals, art galleries, and academic conferences around the world. He is board member of the Society for the Anthropology in Lowland South America, and member of the Center for Research and Collaboration in the Indigenous Americas, and the Substantial Motion Research Network. He received his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology with a Graduate Certificate in Experimental Ethnography from the University of Pennsylvania. Find more information on the films' virtual premiere HERE
Hakimah Abdul-Fattah is a William Fontaine Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Hakimah's project for Portrait as/in Ethnography built on three previous portraits made during the semester exploring kinship, archives, and citizenship, as it pertains to her maternal relatives and displacement in the United States and Antigua. Her still and time-based portraits featured the only remaining images of her maternal grandmother and grandfather who both came to Princeton, New Jersey in the second or third resettlement as a result of migration from the American South and South of the American border. Neither of them lived long enough to see a second wave of Black migration out of Princeton due to gentrification, strengthened in part by the university. By thinking through a limited visual family archive, which mimics in many ways the silences in larger state and colonial records of Black communities, Hakimah became interested in thinking beyond kinship structures to human and nonhuman connections with place/space, built community, and past and future generations. While her maternal grandparents ground this research she believes the final portrait project was as much of a portrait of a place (or places; Princeton, NJ, Clewiston, FL, All Saints, Antigua, etc..) than particular individuals.
This summer Nursyazwani and Rebecca investigated and participated in multiple kinds of creative, nourishing, reparative practices of placemaking at the Mercy street Growing Home garden in South Philadelphia. This project followed a period of transformation in the social life of the Mercy street garden which has witnessed shifting focus (both in terms of funding and collective efforts) from preventing displacement to placemaking and integration. They ask: how do everyday relations at the Mercy street garden offer a site to (1) cultivate belonging and (2) repair fraught ties / relations based on exclusionary practices in this multicultural, multilingual urban space?
The first 6 weeks of creating things together were focused on trellises, and the process of designing, creating, and adapting trellises using a mix of salvaged objects and locally sourced salvaged wood. Drawing on Rebecca's passion for woodworking and making functional objects from salvaged materials we were able to form a collaboration with expert woodworkers from NextFab in South Philly who joined in meetings with gardeners on zoom and in-person to help solidify the plan for the trellises so that they could support the very heavy vined plants that Karen gardeners traditionally grow such long squash, bottle gourd, bitter melon, and Karen. The practice of conceptualizing, designing, crafting, and installing trellises together elicited different modes of visualizing and describing structural elements across multiple registers of English, Karen, and Thai.
As the garden began to flourish, they participated in traditional Karen agricultural practices, learning about the many different fruits and vegetables gardeners were cultivating based on seeds they had saved, or that had been passed around through networks of Karen refugees across the country. During the practices of daily tending, the Karen collaborators Nursyazwani and Rebecca worked with recounted their embodied memories of tending to these plants in different places throughout their lifetimes. Towards the end of the summer, they began conceptualizing different art projects that would beautify the space while also providing information about the rich variety of plant life that folks were cultivating. They had our first sign painting day in August, with more upcoming.
This summer, with the help of the CEE Summer Research Grant, OreOluwa Badaki ( Pictured in the first image) ran the first round of workshops for the Food Justice Writing Group: an intergenerational community of writers, creatives, storytellers, and media makers invested in food and environmental justice. OreOluwa and The Food Justice Writing Group began researching and writing their first project: a speculative fiction screenplay that centers the history and relevance of okra in Black food traditions and histories. The script is being co-written by OreOluwa Badaki and Black youth (age 14-18) who are working on food justice and sovereignty in their communities. The workshops center the people, places, plants, and politics relevant to Black foodways. They center these elements as they learn the art of script and screenwriting to tell stories that build on food, farming, and literacy traditions spread throughout the African Diaspora. This was an opportunity for young people to activate their creativity and criticality as they help to archive, as well as re-imagine, the stories and experiences important to Black foodways. In addition, many of the young people involved in the project have never had the opportunity to look closely at what a career in screen or playwriting, or any sort of creative writing, might look like. This project also serves as a way for them to explore new career paths in food and environmental justice. OreOluwa Badaki I wrote about this project for Environmental Health News that can be found HERE...
PENN MUSEUM 336
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