we time travel and twist/burn old things and make them new/we baptize ourselves in rivers big enuf to fit all of our selves/we shimmy and shake under golden suns so fierce/we feel/we think/we do/we are who we are...
On the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Combahee River Collective Statement, an intergenerational collective of artists of color started a series of living room gatherings in the Bronx to study this document, its historical importance, and its impact on us today. Manny Rivera then facilitated a three-month series of manifesto writing workshops. "We are..." is the culmination of that series. An exhibit of installations, works in "We are..." include manifestos written by Virginia Grise, Olamo, olaiya olayemi, Manny Rivera and rene valdez, posters designed by Xavi Moreno and handmade books made by Mari Infante.
Over the course of the exhibit, we will create a community library starting with texts that inspired our gatherings including the Combahee River Collective Statement, adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy, Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation, Virginia Grise’s Your Healing is Killing Me, Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anzaldua’s This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Russell Maroon Shoatz’s Maroon the Implacable, and Stefano Harney & Fred Moten’s The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study.
We invite the public to help us build this library by donating a book that changed their life or a personal manifesto to add to the collection. At the end of the exhibit, we will donate these books to the women at Perryville Women’s Prison in Arizona who created and collectively run their own learning hub inside the prison.
From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa – Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. She is a recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, the Yale Drama Series Award, and the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press) The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press) and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press).
Olamo is a Brooklyn born descendant of parents originating from Guyana (South America) and Republica Dominicana (Hispaniola). "I make more mistakes because I take more chances" - Olamo is quoted proclaiming his view as a lifelong Experimentalist. Between performances as a Recording Artist, Olamo works as a Teaching Artist to youth in classes that incorporate elements of Music Production, Engineering, and Self Determination. Experimenting with sonic and visual art, Olamo has etched a presence rooted in healing and harm/waste reduction. A humble student of this universe; he is invested in ways of living abundantly without exchanging state currency. Olamo is a loving critic of "reality" as well as the author of the quotations: "Money is a useful myth" and "Pay me in Sunlight".
olaiya olayemi is a blk/trans/womyn/artist/educator/activist who centers women of the African/Black Diaspora in her cinematic and performative works of art. As an interdisciplinary theater artist, she writes performance art pieces that fuse music, movement, spoken word, and visual art. As an independent film artist, she crafts experimental screenplays that eschew Hollywood conventions. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing (minor African/Black Diaspora Studies) from DePaul University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College where she was a recipient of the Dean's Fellowship. She currently lives in the Bronx.
Manny Rivera is a trans Brooklyn-based theatre artist and member of the queer performance art collective, A Beautiful Desperation. They are an alum of The City College of New York where they developed H.O.M.E. along with Mar Z. Phan, that went on to be produced at New Ohio Theatre, the summer of 2016. Sound design credits include: Virgo/Libra/Cancer or Heartburn (New Ohio Theatre), High School Coven (Paradise Factory), Jiffy & Beanz (BAX), Pick Your Parts (Dixon Place), The Taming of Cats (The Brick), blu (Aaron Davis Hall).
rene valdez is a xicano maroon, radical feminist, and prison abolitionist. He grew up on the border, in the desert mountain region of El Paso, Tejas, across the rio grande river from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. rene’s art is about liberation: exorcising/letting go of what no longer serves us and gets in the way of being free as black and brown people. He makes art as a collective practice of building deep relationships, imagining new worlds, and liberating space for creating and practicing a FUTURE/new society.
Virginia Grise: www.virginiagrise.com