C Magazine


Issue 132

Editorial: Force
by taisha paggett and Erin Silver

Once a year, C Magazine invites a guest editor to take over an issue, and this particular guest edited issue coincides with C’s commitment to re-visiting contemporary feminisms on a regular basis. For C132, guest edited by dance artist, choreographer and educator taisha paggett, and art historian and curator Erin Silver, the editors have importantly broadened the feminist conversation much further than C has in the past. It resonates deeply with the events of 2016, and it offers a series of exchanges and provocations that I’m thrilled to present to C readers at the beginning of my time as Editor. — Kari Cwynar

The force of this issue lies in concerns over matter, and what matters, in the face of the political urgencies of 2016. We consider and interject the current place of intersectional feminisms in relation to a view of lived realities as embodied, material and distinct.1

In her 1993 book Bodies that Matter, Judith Butler famously asked, “Which bodies come to matter – and why?”2 When, in 2016, the notion that Black lives matter is met with resistance, dismissed and subordinated under a universalizing defense that “all lives matter,” Butler’s question appears prescient, and pressing. As 2016 unfolded and we witnessed bodies exert, resist and negotiate power, we became concerned to test the value of thinking and making in relation to the body as materially formed, or forming, in the face of these present day political urgencies. We felt urgency to address the lived realities of POC, trans and LGBQ bodies in exerting force against systemic, social and physical violence. As we held in our minds the events of 2016, we looked to consider their broader implications: Orlando against the backdrop of Pride celebrations and a call to recognizing the role of Latina trans women in the history of gay liberation; BLMTO’s Pride Parade action, which shut down the parade for half an hour while BLMTO made a historic demand for greater visibility for queer people of colour in the parade, and greater accountability from parade organizers and police; increasingly nuanced understandings of solidarity, allyship and holding space in relation to Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock and Idle No More. We asked, where does feminism – as it informs and has been informed by rights movements – reside in these events? How does it support and propel present-day political struggle? How do we conceptualize “force” in relation to the material, social and political body? And how do we resist the aestheticization/anesthetization of political urgency? How do we make a magazine that “moves” in time with political movement?

Movement occupies a central place in this issue, affirming embodiment as in-extricably tied to the realm of the political, the body, a material conduit for tracing the historical and carving new worldviews. Essays by Anna Martine Whitehead and Treva C. Ellison examine the world-making potential of Black dance – in Whitehead’s case, histories of occupation and of enslaved ancestors as evoked by a dance ensemble of Black queer and femme women, rocking “an activation of spirit in the flesh.” In Ellison’s essay on Black dance forms including flexing and the collaborative practice of weight exchange in the choreography of taisha paggett and the WXPT dance company, Ellison offers flexibility, in its focus on “process, practice, conjuring, tarrying, cracking and hacking as ways of approaching Blackness and Black embodiment.” taisha occupies multiple roles in the development of this issue: asan artist, an interlocutor and editor – a reflection of our desire not only to promote a view to the written text as alive, but also to test the boundaries of author-ship and authority. As co-editors, we have met only once in person, yet underscoring the issue is a trail of rich textual and virtual exchange, plotting artistic, affective and political affinities; cross-continental (taisha in Los Angeles; Erin in Toronto)correspondence; emails saturated with emphatic bolds, underlines, CAPS LOCKS—the spectral index to the texts presented herein.

Dialogue figures prominently in this issue; Martine Syms, in conversation with Amy Kazymerchyk, discusses the power of repetitive gesture and of borrowing inconnecting people, culturally and cross-temporally, while Lucca Fraser, co-author of the Xenofeminist Manifesto, talks to Esmé Hogeveen about Laboria Cuboniks and the role of technology in forging pluralistic feminisms. In their artist project At the Edge of Space and Time: Expanding beyond Our 4% Universe, Jennifer Moon and laub bridge quantum mechanics with the the racialized, gendered body, employing Karen Barad’s concept of intra-action, by which individuals come into being via exchange. In addition to strengthening the lines that tie different feminisms together –intergenerational dialogues, spectral tracings, co-conspirings – the tensions within the concept of a cohesive and dominant western feminist genealogy are interrogated by Wanda Nanibush in her guest-written Close Readings, where a re-tracing of Rebecca Belmore’s exhibition KWE opens up reflections on the “complicated and fertile relationship between Indigenous women, art and feminism” and her identification as Anishinaabe-kwe.

Making a magazine that moves in time with political movement means keeping pace with temporal crossings and ruptures– the cautionary lessons learned by looking back, as well as those offered via views toward the future. We meet somewhere in the middle. During the Q&A of a screen-ing this past summer of Lizzie Borden’s 1983 dystopic feminist revolutionary film Born in Flames (reviewed herein by YaniyaLee), at one point the numbers “2016” flash on a retro digital screen – a prescient view to ongoing, and scarily similar, conditions of racialized and gendered oppression. In Syrus Marcus Ware’s On Writing, it’s 2025 – nine years since BLMTOBLACKCITY, the 15-day occupation in front of the Toronto Police Headquarters in protest of police accountability in the death of Andrew Loku and against anti-Blackness and targeted policing. As we seal this issue in the wake of the American election and in the face of political futures unknown, we make this small offering towards the world-making potential of writing, making and moving – of momentum and force, and the resistance to be found in between.