We hold where study
Two-channel HD video, stereo sound, 19’
Film by Wu Tsang
In Collaboration with Fred Morten
Choreography by boychild and Ligia Lewis
Original music by Bendik Giske
boychild, Jonathan Gonzalez, Josh Johnson, Ligia Lewis, Julian and Lorenzo Moten
Work commissioned by curator Nadja Argyropoulou for Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative (PCAI), Greece
The hazard of movement,
of moving and being moved,
of knowing that we are affected,
that we are affective.
— Fred Moten —
we hold where study is a short experimental film that takes
a choreographic approach to image-making and mourning.
The film enacts a series of duets, both within and between
images, featuring choreography by boychild with Josh
Johnson and by Ligia Lewis with Jonathan Gonzalez, both to
original music score by Bendik Giske.
The work is rooted in Tsang’s ongoing dialog with
collaborators Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, authors of
The Undercommons, and in particular on their recent essay
called “Leave Our Mics Alone.” This essay posits an
(im)possible set of images of resistance, through poetic
notions of blackness (and/or transness and/or queerness)
as an improvisational mode of being, in common with others,
working through and of the environment. The hyphenate
terms blackness and/or transness and/or queerness are not
interchangeable according to this proposal; rather they are
irreducibly entangled, and film aims to enact that difference
Considering one of Moten’s analogies, if constructions of
Western/European whiteness can be understood as the set
of (separate, individual) interpersonal relationships, then one
can propose a notion of blackness (and/or transness and/or
queerness) as being the entanglement.
Entanglement is unavailable to the image.
But at the same time, entanglement has the potential to
manifest in every image. It cannot be depicted but at the
same time it infuses the image.
Wu Tsang’s film seeks passage to sociality through the
opening of impossible images. What if the camera was not an
omniscient eye or master narrator – but instead just another
element of the entanglement?
As the artist points out in her notes on a conversation
with Moten: if we want to talk about the socio-ecological
disaster, images of violence and planetary destruction
might first come to mind. But we could also talk about
autophagy (the process that allows the orderly degradation
and recycling of cellular components), and the idea that
the structure and the nature of life is violence to itself, a
constant degeneration and regeneration. What if we were
to understand violence not simply in terms of attacks on
black and trans bodies, or toxic waste eroding the earth,
but in terms of differentiations of violence? In terms of an
ethics of sustainable destruction? What kind of interventions
can today cut through the usual representations and
understandings of “the environment”?
As Wu Tsang proposes with her work, what is urgent now
is not to address tragedy, but to talk about how we live.
What we need is a lot of ‘reverse-engineer’ thinking, a lot of
inverting of powerful formulations that entrap imagination.
Nadja Argyropoulou, March 2017