“Under the paving stones, the beach!”
Our fifth issue comes during the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Across the last few weeks we have experienced tremendous shifts in the architecture of our daily lives. The coronavirus has the potential to wake us out of our complacency and remind us as to our position in history, and more importantly, our agency to affect the future. COVID-19 has already served as a reminder of one important political truth in particular:
We do not live outside of history.
The material conditions of contemporary society (late capitalism) are not natural, rather, they are the results of centuries of cultural and historical developments (colonialism, imperialism, slavery, inequitable access to opportunities and resources).While capitalism presents itself as being natural, it is an economic system that has only come into existence in different geographies at different times across the last few hundred years. Capitalism presents itself as an idealist tabula rasa—the market is a blank surface upon which each human has equal rights, liberties, and access to resources and opportunities— however the material inequities still left behind in the wake of what capitalism replaces (be it European feudalism, sovereign indigenous governments, etc.) are rendered invisible to the capitalist eye.
The present moment brings these material inequities into hyperfocus as we see the ways in which COVID-19 more severely affects those with underlying health conditions, with statistics pointing to its disproportionate affects on communities without access to proper healthcare and humane living conditions.
It is the realization that our contemporary conditions are not natural but cultural that can allow us to realize our own potential to shape and reimagine our future.
Our fifth issue begins with a conversation with curator and cultural organizer La Tanya S. Autry, who discusses the non-neutrality of museums, as well as the exhibit she recently curated at MOCA Cleveland, entitled Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom.
Writer, dancer, choreographer, and educator Biba Bell speaks with us about the social potential of dance, utilizing site-specificity in dance, and her newest project Excavating the House that explores the architecture of dreams and memory.
We also speak with painter and Detroit native Mario Moore about the importance of figuration in painting, the historical role of portraiture, and how his practice has been affected by COVID-19.
Our final conversation is with London based painter and muralist Richard Wilson, who recently completed the Stevie Wonder mural overlooking Paradise Valley. Wilson speaks with us about the social role of murals, and the responsibilities of making public art in a time in which street art is read as a signifier of the potential for gentrification by real estate developers.