Transcript - "Queer Visual Resistance"

Transcript - "Queer Visual Resistance"

March 16, 2023 -- Radical Kinship Series

Listen to "Queer Visual Resistance" with Demian DinéYazhi' and Jess X. Snow.

LETI VOLPP:  Good afternoon and welcome to today's Center for Race and Gender event the Radical Kinship Series event, Queer Visual Resistance with Demian DinéYazhi' and Jess X. Snow.

Before we begin let me say that there's live captioning available if you locate the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Let me begin with a land acknowledgment. We take a moment to recognize that Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin (Hoo-Choon), the ancestral and unseated land of the Chochenyo (Cho-chen-yo) speaking Ohlone people.

(Inaudible noise)

Sorry. Ah. The successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County.

This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma (Muh-wek-muh) Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona band. We recognize that every member of the Berkeley Community has and continues to benefit from the use and occupation of this land since the institution's founding in Consistent with our values of community and diversity we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the University's relationship to native peoples by offering this land acknowledgment we affirm indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold the University of California Berkeley more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples. 

My name is Leti Volpp and I'm the Director of the Center for Race and Gender here at UC Berkeley we're thrilled you can join us for today's event which is the third event this year in our Radical Kinship Series we want you to stay tuned for next radical kinship series April 13th which will be on "Indigenous Pacific Islander Eco-Literatures". 

Let me thank our sister sponsors for today's event the Multicultural Community Center,  the Gender Equity Resource Center (Gen Eq), the LGTQ Citizenship Cluster of Othering and Belonging, and and the Townsend Center for the Humanities. Thank you for your support of this work.

I now want to introduce the fabulous organizer of the Radical Kinship Series and the curator of today's event Alan Pelaez Lopez.

Alan is an Afro-Zapotec artist and scholar from Oaxaca, Mexico. They are the author of "Intergalactic Travels Poems from The Fugitive Alien" published by the Operating system in 2020, which was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award, as well as "To Love and Mourn In The Age of Displacement," which was published by Nomadic Press in 2020. Most recently Alan was named a recipient of the 2022 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargeant Rosenberg poetry Fellowship which is among the largest and most prestigious awards available for young poets in the United States and which recognizes outstanding young poets providing support early in their careers to encourage the further study and writing of poetry in the form of their choosing. Alan is also an Assistant Professor of Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University.

Thank you and I will now turn it over to Alan.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ:  Thank you so much everybody for joining us on this digital space today. I'm excited to moderate queer visual resistance with Damian DinéYazhi and Jess X. Snow, who are two artists and kin who I've had the privilege to build with organize with, and kind of co-envision together.

The way that today is going to go is I will introduce both of the invited speakers and then each of them will present for about 15 to 20 minutes on their visual work. And after they have both presented we will open up the digital space for an interactive Q&A. So feel free to drop your questions in the Q&A box on the bottom of your screen.

So I'm gonna begin at reading both of their bios.

Damian DinéYazhi is a Portland-based in a Trans transdisciplinary autonomous artist poet and curator born to the clans Naasht’ézhí Tábaahá (Zuni Clan Water’s Edge) and Tódích’íí’nii (Bitter Water) the graphic visual practice often produced in collaboration with RISE (Radical Indigenous Survivors and Empowerment Communities Surviving Future) that places queer indigenous resurgence in solidarity with cosmic and natural forces. Their practice is a regurgitation of purported decolonial practices informed by the over-accumulative. exploitative and supremacist nature of hetero, cisgender communities post-colonization. They are a survivor of attempted European genocide, forced assimilation, manipulation, sexual and gender violence, capitalist sabotage and hyper-marginalization in a colonized country that refuses to center its politics and philosophies around the indigenous peoples who land they occupy and refuse to rightfully get back. Damian DinéYazhi lives and works in a post-post-apocalyptic world unafraid to fail.

And now I will be introducing and reading Jess X. Snow’s bio.

Jess X. Snow is a writer, director, multidisciplinary artist, and poet of the Jiangxi Chinese diaspora working on the stolen and unceded that lands of the Munsee Lenape. Spanning large-scale murals, narrative films, protest posters, and children's books, their work explores a radical migrant imagination mental unwellness kinship across cultures, and species, and abolitionists futures. Their film and immersive work has been supported by their friends and community;  The National Film Board of Canada, Tribeca Film Institute, Canada Council for the Arts, Inside Out, Playwright Horizons, The Sloan Foundation for Science and Film, and elsewhere. Their short films include the three-channel documentary “After Earth” released in 2018, and the narratives, “Safe Among the Stars” released in 2019, and “Little Sky” released in 2021, which have screened at 50 plus festivals worldwide. Their picture books include “We Always Had Wings” forthcoming in the fall of this year and “The Ocean Calls”, A Kirkus and Booklist Best Picture Book of 2020.

So now I'm going to transition and hand off the digital space to Damian who will be our first artist to share their work and after Damian it will be Jess. So if everybody can thank Damian and invite them into the space, thank you.

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  All right, thank you Alan. My name is uh Damian DinéYazhi. I'm born to the Clans Naasht’ézhí Tábaahá and Tódích’íí’nii of the Dine tribe. I currently reside in Portland, Oregon which is the ancestral territory and unceded lands of the various bands of Chinook, the Multnomah, Kalapuya, Clackamas, as well as other indigenous tribes who have migrated through and traded throughout this whole region. I grew up in a small town called Gallup, New Mexico, which is a border town to both my tribe which is the Dine tribe and the Zuni tribe which ancestrally through Clan and through my great-great-grandmother, we are also linked in descendants of. Yeah my family's originally from Chinle, Arizona which is on the Navajo Nation.

So I'm gonna try and attempt to share my screen I hope this works.

Does anything pop up on that end. Okay it says that it's the screen sharing is paused, I'm not sure what to do.

Okay um.

Oh God damn. It all right can you all see this at least can someone verify that the screen is at least


Okay, let's see okay all right so yeah I'm just gonna go with this format for right now because whenever I go to try to do it on full screen it doesn't want to do it so all right.

Okay so yeah my name is Damian DinéYazhi. I'm an artist, poet, performer, curator as well my social media Instagram account is @heterogeneous homosexual. Initially, that handle and that name came from Tumblr which is where you know I feel like a lot of while I was in school at the Pacific Northwest College of Art I also had a Tumblr account. And I feel like Tumblr was a really good space for me to get validation from a community that was outside of you know very privileged white art students.

As I previously mentioned I'm from the Dine tribe, this is, these are just some family photos that are tied to my childhood and my family there's a picture of my parents on my on their wedding day. That's my maternal and paternal grandparents and the image on the far left is a traditional housing dwelling for the Dine tribe which is more commonly referred to as a Hogan. This kind of comes up a lot in my work usually just through the visual format, not you know anything sculptural or you know 3D size.

In addition to being a writer, I'm also a self-published writer. Or sorry in addition to being an artist, I'm also a self-published writer. I've put out three books of poetry one titled. “Ancestral Memory” which was a collection of poetry from 2009 to 2016. My second book was titled, ”An Infected Sunset” and that book correlated and related, correlated to a performance that I did where I read the book from entirety from beginning to end. So half of the book is referencing, you know the Western tradition of chat book, poetry books, and the other half is Unbound pages that I've dubbed, “The Liberated Poem”.  

And my latest book, “We Left Them Nothing”,  it was written prior to the pandemic and then also in the pandemic it was slated to be released in 2020 and didn't get released until 2021 2022, something like that. And so this book has you know themes that run adjacent to the pandemic and environmental and you know social collapse and the ongoing.

I apologize for the noise outside.

It has themes that are rooted in settler colonial, settler colonialism extractive industry, extractive culture, and it tries to tie it into this like very 90s nihilistic.  Despair and pessimistic, you know, looking into the future but kind of like rounds, rounds itself out by re-situating itself around prayer. You know prayer I think that has been really difficult for myself coming from a Catholic background but you know through indigenous like ceremony, and lifeways and teachings, you know. I also have to remember the power of prayer with an indigenous worldview and philosophical practice.

And this is just these are just some images of some of the older work that I've done. I'm not going to dive too deep into this. I just kind of wanted to give an idea of the scope of my work and mostly where it had been prior to the pandemic.

So this piece was put together for a exhibition that I had taken part of at the Portland Art Museum in the Center for Contemporary Native Arts.  This was a large photo mural that I created in 2016 that's titled, “Radical Indigenous Queer Feminist Bibliography”.

One second. This is another piece I created in 2018. It's a photograph of Mars and a topic you have text that reads “Promise me you won't colonize me”.  This was installed in a Four Freedoms billboard campaign back in 20, I believe it was 2018 2019.  Around then so you see a large billboard of it, you see the photograph below that which is just based off of a digital, you know, digital image.

And then in conjunction with that space and Portland, Maine had created a flag and phone had flown that outside of their exhibition space. In conjunction with the Portland Art Museum, I also for that Portland Art Museum exhibition I also created this digital print it says “Tradition is not the enemy of progress. Evolution is not the enemy of tradition”.  

This is another image I created back I forget the date exactly it says “POZ SINCE 1492” and alternative title for this is I believe it's “The First Infection”.  It's a digitally altered photograph of a painting depicting the first Thanksgiving. So you have these you know white colonizer Pilgrim descendants handing off food to indigenous communities.

This is another photograph gif image that I had created alongside this. It brings in some photography of some code talkers, the HIV virus, you know the Christopher Columbus's ship, I fuck, I forget the name of it, this wonderful brilliant matriarch, resilient matriarch, And then also brings in like the Whirling Log symbol, which you know more commonly referred to or is historicized as a swastika. But within indigenous Dine culture you know the Whirling Log has various ceremonial ties to it that are all centered around healing. And so you know a fascinating thing is a lot of indigenous Weavers and indigenous Dine creatives right now are you know we're trying to bring this image back and reclaim this image for you know its original purposes and intent.

This is another photo, this is another piece I created alongside Noelle Sosaya, collaborator it's titled “Untitled Sovereignty”. And these are some of the neon signs that I've created I use neon as a way to have a conversation uh that was originally rooted in uranium extraction and radiation, and the complexities of being a part of a tribe whose language transferred from the oral form into the written form through Colonial Warfare. And so prior to World War II our language the Navajo language was primarily spoken, it wasn't written down it, you know it didn't have any sort of history of being in the written form. And so through the The Code Talkers in World War II Navajo went from being a primarily oral spoken language to transfer it into the written form and with that you get into this really complicated relationship of a language that is also simultaneously being translated in order to create a language Crypt to help your oppressors and colonizers you know successfully win the war against other communities of color. And so you know the as I was coming into thinking about you utilizing neon within my work I kept coming back to you know this yellow, this vibrancy of yellow, what it means. What a neon sign means? What the colors mean both within like a Dine color symbology but also within American culture as well. You know, so yellow becomes symbolic of like yellow dirt uranium but it also becomes symbolic of Dine color symbology. It becomes, you know, significant of the sun, of corn, of corn pollen, of yellow clouds that you know are that originate within our creation stories. And so this piece is titled “In Beauty It Is Restored”.  It brings in text from Dine ceremony, you know in a lot of what, we there's a lot of repetition sometimes in our songs. And within our ceremonial songs for instance, so you know a lot of the times it'll be repeating like, “In Beauty It Is Done, In Beauty It is Done, In Beauty It Is Done, In Beauty It Is Done” so it's like this like hyper sort of like intentional mantra that you know isn't acting this like need for healing and restoration and balance

And this was this piece, “My Ancestors Will Not Let Me Forget This”, this is actually more in an example of how this piece was inspired by, you know, extractive industry, color symbology, the uses of neon, and you know throughout history. You know growing up in Gallup New Mexico I-40 came right through our hometown and so right through I-40. Or sorry I-40 was also based off of Route 66 and so Route 66 was you know one of the first highway systems that linked the Midwest to the West Coast. And so Gallup was right along that corridor.  And so you still have all these businesses in Gallup that still have neon signs that you know are probably from the same era. But a lot of the times you know they still exist outside of these Indian Native American jewelry shops that sell indigenous jewelry at like you know triple times the cost the amount for what is purchased for. And they're just a lot of white-owned businesses but they'll have signs outside that say you know Indian jewelry, turquoise jewelry you know right next to a cigar Indian sculpture. This piece is titled “My Ancestors Will Not Let Me Forget This” this but the main text on the piece reads, “Every American Flag Is A Warning Sign”.  And this is a updated version of that which was purchased by Forge, out in New York and so this piece will exist as a red sign and is capable of being installed indoors and outdoors.

This is another sign I created titled, “Destroy the Myth”. This is the largest sign that I've done it's like 16, I forget 16 feet long or something like that 20 feet long. It says, “Not every space deserves you, not every space is sacred”.  

This is another another sign I created that says, “Migration is a sacred right.  A creation story. An act of survivance.” And this piece again brings in Dine color symbology, you know the so according to our creation stories in the First World the only thing that existed was light emanating from four different directions. And so the light that was radiating are the colors that were radiating from different directions was black, white,blue and yellow. And so that's what you see depicted here you know instead of using black I'm using purple.

And so when I think about Dine creation stories and how we came into being I'm I think of that creation story as like this continual retelling of migration. Between worlds and what we need to do in order to exist. So through the Dine creation stories you know we, we move and migrate from different worlds until we're until we reach this world, which is the fourth world, the glittering World.

And so you know as I was thinking as I think about like where we're at where we're situated like post, poke-apocalypse, post post-apocalyptic society, you know I'm also thinking about what it means to migrate from this world into the next one. And you know I feel like we all sort of like got a glimpse into that through 2020 and you know as we thought, and thought ways of creating community care, mutual aid efforts, destruction of colonial monuments, a lot of the thing, you know so like the ways that we forced institutions to create solidarity statements so we wouldn't come after them.  

So we wouldn't ask for them to be dismantled or given back entirely you know institutions that are now going back to the way things existed prior. That are going back to this hyper-capitalist mindset. That are going back and prioritizing cis-hetero perspectives and artists. That are prioritizing artists with gallery representation.

You know one thing that I, that I realized that was really bothering during the pandemic you know I had gone to a gallery here in Portland, Oregon. And I had asked them how they were doing and the gallery, I was expecting them to say this was like August 2020 or July, August 2020.  I had expected them to say that they were you know hurting. That they were applying for grants because they needed to pay the rent. A lot of PPE loans were happening at that time.  And what I heard back from the attendant there and the gallery owner was that they had never done better. That they had never, had they. had not sold as much work in the entire existence of them being there. You know they the Arts were this like really sketchy place during the pandemic because a lot of people made money off of the pandemic. A lot of collectors you know made it a point to invest in their art. And their own private collections as well as invest and galleries.

And so my work now was kind of like thinking about ways that we hold institutions, and you know art galleries and even artists accountable to a lot of these statements that we had put out. And I'm trying to do that through different forms of text-based pieces. I'm working on an entire new collection of work that is titled “Extractive Industries” that is about institutional critique. And really pushing gallery attendance, the general public artists, and collectors to really consider what we have just been through. And what it means to actually create more sustainability into the future. So I’m trying to figure out you know how to do that through a creative practice a lot of my work is through Instagram. I utilize the Instagram stories as like an updated way of like screen printing or Letterpress production. It's a way for me to you know get content out there, you know, in a very quick matter of moments. But I realized that you know not every single exhibition or curator wants to, you know, display Instagram digital memes.  As I don't feel like we're there yet in terms of like legitimizing that that process and way of creating at least not in the same way that that painting is elevated as like a classical form of creating art. And so I'm going back to figuring out um how to have this conversation and have it legitimized in these spaces the only way that I can think to do that is to transfer a lot of the text that I've already written into you know more generalized mediums that aren't currently utilized for art production and art exhibition. So this is one iteration of this new work “Extractive Industries” through the Letterpress format. And I'll kind of wrap it up there. I realize that I might be a little bit over time so I apologize.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ:  Thank you so much Damian. No need to apologize at all. I actually have quite a few questions that I can't wait to ask you during the Q&A sector.   And now we're going to turn the digital space to Jess X. Snow. Thank you so much for joining us Jess.

JESS X. SNOW:  Hi Everyone. Thank you.  Thank you, Alan, for having me. I have so much respect for everybody in this space. I'm going to be just sharing a presentation that I kind of have not shared before so so bear with me.  And I'm really looking forward for the, for the conversation that will come after. So just one, one second as I pull everything up.

Okay. Okay so.

Oops sorry. Sorry okay so I wanted to start this with a video but if for some reason we cannot hear the sound in the video I'm okay to skip the video.

Is everyone able to hear this.

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  No, Jess it’s not playing.

JESS X. SNOW:  Sorry about that I, I would just move to the other part of my presentation.

Okay let me re-share my screen.

Okay so.

I wanted to, so this is a photo of me in 1997 when I was visiting China for the first time with my with my family of origin and I wanted to just share a little bit about my the work that I do. So I'm a multi-disciplinary muralist and filmmaker. And I first wanted to talk a little bit about how my, how my relationship with the visual work that I'm making and my queerness has shifted over time. 

So I came into visual art and mural making through making large-scale public art activations. That were sometimes illegal and they started as like creating these, these posters of my friends and like words that people who I hold it within my chosen community. Kind of like these love letters that they write for themselves and, and these two pieces feature to non-binary and trans community members one of them is Jayden Fields, and the other one is my dear friend Sonia Guinansaca.

And I started kind of making these large-scale murals that were sometimes illegal. Like these were like, like illegally placed public art advertisements on phone booths and stuff. And then they, and they also were large-scale public murals that weren't illegal and had like on permission from the from the building owners to create.

And over a period of five years, I created a lot of these really large scale murals that feature queer community and our kinship with the natural world and, and they sometimes involved a process where I worked, I worked with a migrant youth in high schools. And also like college-age youth and we worked on together to create these large public art pieces. 

And over a period of time I felt like I wanted to, like I had been ignoring, like all the stories and voices that that have been inside of me, and I felt like I've kind of like repressed myself in the process of making art that uplifts the communities like around me. And I think something that I've been I'm working through in my artistic practice is that, Why does it have to be one or the other?  Like is it possible to make art that feels like I can unleash my own visions and voices as well also uplifting the community at the communities around me at the same time.  So I've been been trying to bridge that together through creating these, through moving into film and moving into like augmented reality murals. And I wanted to speak a little bit about that. And to talk a little bit about the work that I'm doing now in film after coming from her background of art that has been in service of social movements.  

So I wanted to share this this quote by Kai Cheng Thom, who's a trans, non-binary, Asian Canadian writer and social worker. And they ask “What if instead of asking how mental illness can be contained or eradicated, we asked instead how it can show us the kind of healing that we need? And, instead of clinging on to the fantasy of mental health in order to deny our suffering, we ask our suffering what is it was trying to say? “ And I think like the reason why I begin with this quote because after is that after doing like a decade of public art, and art that was in service of social movements that I feel like sometimes I'm kind of became part that the public or just like that, that the the people who were commissioning me, the art that that they, they wanted to see me make, and not being able to like saying “No”, like I just, like it,  I just really burnt out and I found myself in a place where I was trying to figure out what my voice was again.

So I wanted to share a piece of writing that I wrote about the, like the films that I'm making now and here are some stills from a couple of short films that have been a part of my body of work.  I remember the times that I had a mental breakdown when I was no longer able to work or show up to others triggered by the culmination of stress or a breakup time and time again my chosen family was was who held me and helped me understand that, that our, my breaking points was my body's way of asking to be cared for after a lifetime of performing a false self for my family, the institution and the state. The vulnerability of my true self and inner child would reveal itself and these breakdowns. And my chosen family modeled a quality of care that my family of origin could not fathom. The kinship that we shared made me feel safe enough to push against the heteronormative and workaholic values imposed on me by my family and the culture of this empire and finally free myself.  An authentic person, a queer, a queer person, an artist, and oftentimes a bad student.  That self finds home in the stories I tell and had the movies I make. Can the camera care for my characters the same way that my chosen family has cared for me in a culture where the camera is used to police us and create propaganda for corporations.  In the state can we use the camera to counter-surveill and betray the male, the male and Western-gaze. 

And then eventually after making, after writing and directing a body of short films I decided to begin to act in my own work. And like to to bring my drawings into my films. And I feel like recently in that process I had a revelation.

This is a short film that I made that's coming out that that I played the lead character and it's basically about like a wannabe artist in New York who has a dragon inside of her. And the dragon, the dragon represents the her like queerness, and like being Chinese, and like, and like migrant. And in this world everyone's dragons has been separated from them. So she has to kind of learn how to like come to terms with the potential power of her dragon and set it free in a world that tries to hunt it. And it's also like a story about about like coming to terms with like queerness and non-binary identity, as well and it was just like really amazing to work on that.

And I wanted to end with the last part of this essay that I wrote about film. So who who who holds, who who holds us when we reach these, these breaking points our chosen family, our lovers, the Pacific Ocean or the sky? What must they take to finally become free? And at what cost desperate to fulfill a line for home? My characters escape their, their families of origin. Develop teleportation powers. Travel across continents to build a chosen family who will hold them. They entangle themselves in the intimacy of dangerous relationships. Lose themselves in song. Or late night drag shows. Or the soft embrace from that one rare friend who understands. Just for even if just for that one moment in the confines of this empire I call that moment the most authentic way to keep living.

And I just wanted to share these photos that of the time that Damien and Alan and I spent at Caldera last year during a residency that I had. And I, and I feel like what has really held me down during during this pandemic are the intimacies and the kinships that I've shared with my friends, who have really learned, who have really taught me how to like see myself, and to and and to nurture that inner voice that I sometimes feel like I've lost in like the the really large-scale public art work that I've done.

And I wanted to to to end with this one poem um and and behind this poem I'm going to share some images of a series of public artworks that I did over the last year about imagining a future without anti-Asian violence, and without police.  And had the mural was created in in collaboration with Chinatown youth and elders in a organization called, “The Well Project”.

In Washington Square Park the organizers placed incense fruit and a homemade dinner on three massage beds as a cellist plays a melody to hundreds of us in prayer. And I know the trees are singing too. On my way home at night I cover my face with a mask. Practice my peripheral vision, look both ways before crossing. I wonder what the mothers were dreaming the morning they woke before their last day at the spa. They never consented to the immortalizing of their lives on the internet to be shared over and over. What if dragons do not want to be remembered for how they were slain, but rather the ways that they soared and who they chose to fly with. I want to be remembered for who I chose to fly with so. At night I phoned my friend one after the other Alan tells me of a canoe where we're laying in the middle of a calm lake. With a blink of our eyes we teleport all of our favorite foods from the villages of Jiangxi and Oaxaca onto our laps. Sonia speaks of a dance party with our queer black and brown friends, and we hide in the corner, it's okay because all the cuties read the over stimulation on our faces and know to come to us. Frizzly tells me of a future where we're traveling the world making movies without thinking about the limits of a budgets or green cards.  Atrio turns on a time machine he plays me home videos of our community's future children. After the decades that their ancestors spent learning how to keep each other safe without the state, they spend their days dreaming about other things like superpowers, gardens and outer space.  I listen to these stories and suddenly the spirals subside and for the first time this week I can finally sleep.

Thank you.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ:  Thank you so much, Jess and Damian.  After hearing the both of you I think this was a quiet beautiful pairing because Damian in your presentation you talk about your new body of work that's holding institutions accountable for you know their lack of either transparency or their hyper investment in capitalism.

And Jess the way you began your presentation today you, you kind of trace for us your genealogy of beginning with the illegal art making that then transitions into the large-scale murals, and kind of negotiating the fact that you're being commissioned to create very specific art. And in that commissioning process, performing a false self which I think it's one of the critiques that Damian is also posting in their latest work.  

And you use the word entanglement Jess in in your presentation, and I think that, the three of us right, like we're all artists. And we're we've somehow been entangled in this weird world where our institutions, museums, cultural spaces desire our stories.  Might desire some of our politics but don't desire our actual maybe like personhoods or independent political goals.  

And Damian you talk a lot about you know your color symbology in your science and how they're insisting like on, you don't say like Dine aesthetic, but they're insisting on creation stories that serve as migratory portals. And Jess you talk, you're insisting on like your community as a different form of portal. So both of you are creating like kinship entanglements that are critiquing the institutional art world which is something that I kind of want to put into the space and thank you for.

And while we are waiting for people to kind of begin to put their questions in the Q&A box I want to first-hand the space off to either of you. If you want to comment on what you heard from each other, or if you just want to ask one another a question. So I'll like let you two first speak before we begin to filter questions.

JESS X. SNOW:  Okay. Thank you so much for opening the space. I just love your analysis and just like everything that you've been saying about the connections between our work. I was taking notes as you were saying that because I was like oh I want to remember this so I can come back to it. Because when I feel uninspired I'll just remember some of the things that you said about community as portal.  And how yeah, I mean yeah, so Damian and I go way back. We went on tour back in 2015. I think it was like I was trying to move across the country it was called the Solastalgia Tour. And I hadd like this bad breakup, and I was like I'm done with LA., I'm gonna move to New York. And then I was like Damian, you want to come on tour with me?  So we would listen to like Carly Rae Jepsen all the time, and share heart-to-hearts every day. And we would share poems. And I guess like  I'm curious about, because so much time has changed and a pandemic has happened between then and now. I'm curious like, like what kind of advice would you give to your younger self in in in that moment? And like, like knowing that your art is going to change and all these things were to happen, like I'm just curious what you would have told yourself?

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  Was that question for me?

JESS X. SNOW:  Yes, it was for you.

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  I would say be careful who you fuck with, and you know there's just been a lot of like exposés about pretendians. And you know, I feel like I opened myself up to that. You know, or everyone like makes, I don't, I wouldn't say open myself up to that. But like you get exposed to that especially within the Arts a lot of people who falsify identity and where they're from. It goes hand in hand with ways that we exploit different parts of ourselves or that we allow different parts of ourselves to be exploited. So that warning, you know I joke, I mean, I laugh about it being, like be careful who you fuck with. But like it's also be careful who you fuck with in terms of like institutions, curators, programmers, etc.

One thing that I realized through the pandemic pretty early on was just the ways that I was just like so go go go hustle. You know like a lot of us were. Just like in 2019, 2020 like everything felt like exciting and like it was leading to something. And so it was just easy to just jump into that, like jump on a plane and like go somewhere else, and like connect with people, and then do the same thing like a week or two later.

But one thing that the pandemic like really brought into awareness for myself was like how much I allowed different parts of like my identity, and definitely like my ancestry and culture. How I allowed those things to be exploited and not realize it at the time. You know like not realize that like, oh I'm being like shoved into like being a native artist. And like not really having time to focus on like queerness, or gender, or like trans issues because I feel that the shows that I will get, and the ways that I'll pay rent and make work, is by making native artwork.

So I think you know one advice I would just give myself is to like slow down a little bit and like really remind myself of like what what brought me into the Arts. What inspired me and like what will ultimately like continue to sustain me going forward. And it's not going to be money. It's not going to be showing up you know, MOMA or the New Museum or anything. You know it's going to be these connections that I made. It's going to be going on a poetry tour. Going to some like art residency in the middle of nowhere and just like connecting with people, like that',  that's been like the most rewarding thing for me throughout this entire process.

What about you Jess? What would you, what would, what advice would you give yourself now?

JESS X. SNOW:  I think I would have just like wanted to tell myself to really have enjoyed that tour with you, and savored every single moment of it, and stopped like wanting to live in the.  Because I think I spent a lot of time on that tour, like we had a lot of fun, but I spent a lot of time just feeling like a lot of uncertainty about the future. And like did I accomplish enough. Like am I going to be the artist who I want to be in that inner voice just what felt like it was a thing that I always had and I didn't know how to silence it.

But I think that it was just really special the time that we had together, and the times that I have with friends. And I just wish that I spent more time being fully present and letting myself fully like surrender to,  to these moments of joy when they do happen. Like these moments where we're driving across the land and it's so beautiful, and then like the wind is blowing.  Because I feel like, like the older that I get and as the pandemic happens and the voices of the institutions, as free like as like as much as I believe that I am someone who, who like knows myself and knows my voice. Like the voices of those institutions imagine eventually became really, really loud and I feel like I lost years of my life trying to like become a false self for them. And I want to go back in time to reclaim the self that I shared in those moments on that tour.

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  Can we like work on a collaborative project or something?  Because like I've been in this headspace of being like I need to like do some sort of like performative work where I take back all these instances where I gave myself away. Or even just a poem, or a Solastalgia Two, or something. You know of just been like, I give back like the ways that I offered myself so willingly, and I forgive myself for doing that, and I won't do it again going forward. You know, it’s beautiful.

 JESS X. SNOW:  I think that's a great idea. I think we need to do that poem and do Solastalgia Part Two. And invite, invite Alan to be a part, to do a poem


JESS X. SNOW:  in a space. I think that'll be so amazing. Because I do feel like I've lost, I think we both lost parts of ourselves. As sad as it that sounds.


JESS X. SNOW:  And. And I want to get it back, and I think the way to get it back is through, through, is through friendships and community.

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  Yeah, Yeah I agree.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ: So what I'm hearing is that both of you are through your artwork are reclaiming kind of like your own space. And also, I mean Damian you kind of like share that you've been pigeonholed as kind of like the native artist, or a native artist who makes Native Art. And Jess in your presentation you also talked about being commissioned, and that becoming kind of your identity, like the public art muralist, who's working on behalf of community. as opposed to on behalf of yourself.

I do want to give a little shout out to Solastalgia, which is an incredible chat book, if you're haven’t read it please do pick up a copy. I teach it and it's always kind of one of the highlights in the semester with my students.

But I do want to, you know, share a question that came in the chat so Ji Fe Chang asks. I'm gonna put it, I'm gonna send it to you both right now so you can read along with me. “Thank you both so much for your powerful queer and non-binary collective energies.  Jess, can you say more about how you imagine the Jiangxi Chinese diaspora? How does this relate to ethnicity race and/or indigeneity? And Damian, can you say more about how migration is a condition of indigenous survivance? How do you imagine indigeneity globally?”

JESS X. SNOW:  I need to think about it for a second. So Damian do you want to start?

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:  Yeah. I. I mean, I think it's necessary for migration is necessary for anyone's survival. I'm you know and the entire story of colonization from the old world to the new world is a story of migration. As much as it is like horror, genocide, terror and the introduction of like transphobia, queerphobia into, you know, what is now deemed as like North America, South America.

But you know I feel like when, well I don’t feel, when I think back to creation stories and stories told between elders, even between tribes, you know that's, it there's a really long and complicated history that predates colonialism, that a lot of anthropologists I think you know try to rewrite or alter, as a way to delegitimize indigenous ties to where we are from.

But then when I start to think about it in terms of like a longer sort of like history. You know, I start to think about our ties to even like cosmology and the cosmos. And this is where I feel like some of my poetry, when it's like when I'm trying to write about like what it means to be indigenous. I'm kind of going all over the place. But when I write about like what it means to be indigenous, you know, I feel like a lot of the times people stereotype indigeneity or indigenous people as like being tied to like nature.

And so I've always thought about like well if I'm going to be a native person that is like tied to nature I'm gonna be the native person that like has a romantic history or relationship with like uranium, with like with coal, with like these extractive things, that have been like pulled from, these for pulled from the earth. And like these really violent and terrorizing ways that is tied to similar history, is that like communities of color, black, indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander communities have had to process and are traumatized by.

But that's not too far from like, this like cosmological history where we're all sort of like contemplating what it means to survive, and even contemplate like our own existence in whatever the fuck this is. You know and that's that's one thing that I feel like we’re continually distracted and pulled away from remembering. Even being in the city and like not seeing that like connection to the stars, you know, I were being force-fed this colonial simulated lie about what it means to be a human. And so I keep going back to you know these migration stories of, of even spiritual migrations, of like figuring out who we are at different points in our lives. Of how we correlate or relate to our own gender identity. How we relate to our own communities. How we relate to our own ceremonial teachings. You know I feel like these are all instances of like, our own sort of, like stories of surviance that in bigger picture will like help us figure out ways that we dismantle corrupt systems. So anyway I hope that's, I hope that's an answer.

JESS X. SNOW:  I don't have as beautiful of an answer because the question was about how I imagined the Jiangxi Chinese diaspora how does that relate to ethnicity race and or indigeneity.  um It's honestly I'm not, like I'm still trying to like reclaim or like understand like my family and where they they came from?  

And like China is a very very big big country and the place in China that my parents are from um like they were from like like a tiny like Village in the countryside and Jiangxi which is not like a very Central Province in China. Because like a lot of people when they think of China, they think, they think of like some of the larger cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, or like Guangzhou. But there's like no, there's like no movies or like stories written about the like the place in in China that my family is from. But but it is known as the porcelain capital of of China.

And I just think that as I wanted to just be more specific about which diaspora I come from. And I wanted to name like the part of China that my family is from, but and I think, and I think I honestly just need to spend more time there. And to learn more about my family's histories and because I think a lot of these, these histories are also oral and they're being lost because a lot of my grandparents have passed away. And my, and on my mom's side my grandma is kind of the only person left in that generation. And a lot of the stories of like of like how she grew up, and the cultural revolution. It's um something that and about what happened in that specific part of China is something that is not really like recorded. So I've, I feel like my relationship with that part of with my diaspora and that part of China is something that is a work in progress. That will be continued throughout time as I spend more time on learning these things, and I only wish. That I wish this was something I was more curious about like earlier on in my life while my grandparents were still alive.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ:  Thank you. I think that in both of your answers.

Damian you kind of like talk about how migration stories at least help you relate to others . And I think that Jess in the answer you just gave there's also something about the rule the political role of the story, and why you're insisting on like naming the Jiangxi Chinese diaspora. Right because it also opens up a potentiality of relationality, and it's also very specific which I think it's something that in what is now considered like the connected 48 states, in the United States, some indigenous activists, scholars, and artists have insisted on using precise language in order to not speak for others. And I think Jess like your move to name which part of the diaspora is also like practicing that you are naming a geopolitical region in an empire. And I think that that's one of the ways in which it's coming up in the same way that you Damian in your, even in your bios that I've read on the internet. You're so specific about where you live now. Where you grew up. You know the clans that you're from. Which I think is an ethic that very few people have. You know like and also me like as a migrant in the U.S. it's also something that I've learned a lot from the two of you of how to like move in the US, and centering not only land. but my political and spiritual relationship to a land.  Which I do see in your visual work and in your poetic work.

Because we are almost at 5:10. I do want to begin closing off the space. And you know there is some praise in the chat and in the Q&A. I don't know if you have access to the Q&A but uh there is some praise in it. People are saying “Thank you” to the two of you. So I want you to receive that because I know you can’t see the audience. 

For those of you who are in the audience I really thank you for coming to this digital space and spending an hour with us to think about visuality and to think about poetic and kinship among the three of us. Damian and Jess, I don't know if you have any last words for one another before we close it up, because once we close it off it's kind of like a rough goodbye. (Laughter)

DAMIAN DINÉYAZHI:   Thank you, all. Thank you for organizing and everyone at Center for Race and Gender for, you know putting today's event together. Thank you all for coming, sticking around. And thank you Jess and Alan for all you do for my own mental health, and spiritual well-being. I really look forward to figuring out when we can gather again and share space. And yeah I hope I hope we all figure out ways that we can get back to a lot of the work that we you know had talked about and like instigated in like 2020. Because as we're like being thrust back into going back to the way things were, you know, we owe our futures, our brilliant vibrant futures, you know more time effort and commitment. So thank you all.

JESS X. SNOW:  Thank you for having, having us and being such a wonderful host. I miss you both so much. And I hope that everyone in this audience can think more about about the friendships and chosen family that they hold most dear and create more spaces for dreaming that don't require asking permission from grants or institutions. And just, we can give ourselves that permission, and time is a thing that moves by like so, so quickly. And I hope we can fully be, be like present to the the people and the joys and in front of us and be more dictated by the speed of our dreams and our imagination as opposed to the speed of capitalism.

ALAN PELAEZ LOPEZ:  Great. Thank you so much everybody. I hope you have a good rest of your day.