ociele hawkins, Obeah From Tomorrow, Curate This

Real Talk

Obeah from Tomorrow

With three cups of magic and a fist full of perseverance, ociele hawkins’ poetry and performance intertwines meditations on the search for and discovery of Black joy with profound reflections on perception, memory, and survival. ociele’s raw and fearless poetry is as profound as it is revelatory. Her words act as a serum expanding our notions of what’s possible, offering a rare glimpse into simultaneous deep pain and limitless joy. Her work often leaves me speechless and humbled, with a ceaseless sense that self-love is a necessary component of resistance.

ociele is a poor, working-class, queer Black nonbinary femme from Philadelphia. She is an organizer whose work has ranged from fighting gentrification to working with high school students in education justice. ociele is an unapologetic and brilliant college dropout, a survivor, and an artist shattering assumptions while building power for her people and approaching her work with ferocity. Preorder her forthcoming poetry book From the Dust We Rose at brightlikeblack.com, and help send her to Ghana at https://www.gofundme.com/send-ociele-and-omi-to-ghana. – Eva Wǒ, curator

Obeah From Tomorrow from Eva Wǒ on Vimeo.

If all the oppressions that marginalized me were gone how would I arrive? We had to go to the future to answer this question. In the year 2040 Obeah is in love with herself. This unselfish love was achieved through work; both the nonlinear journey of personal healing and the systemic work to dismantle capitalism through organizing. The piece takes place moments before a gala celebration of decades of labor and the 5-year anniversary of liberation; when she is in deep reflection of her journey. This video is a collaboration between ociele hawkins and Eva Wǒ, with additional support from Dana Nichols and Kris Keen.

The text of the poem featured in Obeah From Tomorrow

See that’s what oppression does to you—it’ll have you blaming yourself for the shit that ain’t got nothing to do with you.

This love was EARNED!

Shit! I feel like i’m still earning it. But you know what? Earn ain’t got nothing to do with this. This my, before I was even thought of or screeched my 1st cry, divine right. Every single goddamn day my body extends its contracts to inhale and exhale, I got the right to love me the way I do.

Allah has blessed me.

Because I choose to accept myself for who I am. I choose to no longer make excuses for who I am. Not to qualify or disclaim who I am. My life is to be lived for myself and not for the approval or appeasement of others.

That’s work. I’ve learned how to do my work: Be kind to myself. Have patience with myself. Give myself 2nd chances.

I choose to organize myself in favor of a flourishing life, denying the oppression’s that wanted me isolated, and afraid, and eventually dead. I chose to be happy.

Zach Zecha

My Problem with the Arts in Philadelphia

Nothing Out of the Ordinary

Zach Zecha is a fairly recent Philly transplant, moving here from Colorado in 2013 to get his MFA from PAFA. He was a founding member of Automat, a gallery he started with some fellow PAFA MFA-ers on the second floor of the 319 N. 11th st. building. He makes paintings and assemblages that remind that we are not in control, and that is beautiful. His work is glorious chaos at first glance and then slowly you begin to find meaning in the connections he makes, going from a loud scream to gentle whisper. I never thought hot pink duct tape could make me so sad. An inner conflict ever-present. Symbolism both invented and universal is presented, redacted, and then re-presented in a different form. He cites Baudrillard, Plato, and the like; but really, in the most human terms, his work asks us to stand back and appreciate the beauty of our chaotic, broken world as it crumbles in front of us; at the same time, he asks us to work hard to make meaningful connections. Very relevant work for our current political climate.

-Veronica Cianfrano, curator


Yours as Much as Mine, Maria Dumlao


Picking Up a Pencil and Other Directions

Maria Dumlao works with photography, artists’ books, installation, performance, sound, and video. Her fantastic exhibition at Vox Populi last September, Next to Nothing, consisted of three works: one single-channel video, a multi-channel video, and a portable record player with a 7-inch painted vinyl record, spinning. The video, Yours As Much As Mine, isolates everyday house-hold objects in a suspended animation which takes these objects out of context and takes the viewer out of this world.

For her contribution to Curate This, I asked Maria to give me a set of items that everybody should read, view, watch, etc.

-Julianna Foster, curator

Some homework for Curate This‘ readers, in no particular order:

  • Read “Some Sound Observations” written by Pauline Oliveros. This essay appears in the anthology Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner. Here’s a pdf I found online.
  • Read this sentence and tell me you can’t hear the lamp in your room, the electricity behind the walls, the creaking beams in your house, the construction outside, and the motorbikes in Philly. See if you succeed in unhearing them.
  • John Whitney, “Catalogue” 1961, 16mm film (color and sound) 9 minutes. A digital video from the film is currently exhibited at the MoMA, but here it is in YouTube. Feast on abstraction in motion.

John Whitney, “Catalogue” 1961

  • Oblique Strategies, written instructions by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. When you’re in the studio and you just need to take a break, get ready to pick a card from a deck and “play.” Be open to diversions. If you want to play with me, I’ll post one a day on Instagram.

Oblique Strategies, written instructions by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt

  • Visit the non-western wing of PMA, the Met, or any big museum. Whether it’s called primitive, pre-Columbian, African, pre-historic, Oceanic, whatever it is, it’s a reminder that art (and the art world) as we know it is one of many narratives. An example I like to ponder is the ubiquitous crucifix and how its symbolism was used by some cultures as a representation of the cyclical birth/life/death/underworld before the Christian conquistadors colonized.
  • Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge (A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution), written by Terence McKenna in 1992, is relevant due to our search into altered states of consciousness and as an elucidation of many of our sorrows, be it addiction, materialism, and the fear of self-awareness. Solutions have been in front of us all along.

Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna

  • Sharpen a #2 pencil or take hold of a Sharpie. With these power tools, draw/write what you would otherwise post in social media. Try it for a day and don’t stop if you can help it.

Maria Dumlao pencils

  • Living Photograph: Chris with Teacup on YouTube. I discovered this one-minute video in 2007 (YouTube was established in 2005) and I don’t know who the maker is or what it is about. I can’t believe it’s still up after 9 years. I revisit it to be reminded of the possibilities of YouTube and how it has now become our everyday landscape. It’s not as strange as anything we see now, but it’s a prominent early memory.