Sometimes the shortest shortcut to a destination is to walk in the other direction.
In 2019-20, The Emergence Network gained a lot of visibility as we moved our conversations to the crosscurrents of the public eye. We convened over a thousand people for The Wilds Beyond Climate Justice to explore what conversations and work can lie at the end of hope, pushing ourselves into the cracks that the mainstream discourse on climate change would rather close. Our curator, Suélen Brito, created art and revived cultural memories through her project Rolê Holi, making the favelas of our immediate surroundings a cultural moment of departure and co/unlearning. We ran a six-month series, “Meet at the Crossroads” where we gathered in the digital living rooms of our friends for intimate conversations on postactivism, fugitivity, and being alive in these times.
Given the growing interest in our work and the promise of more collaborations and possibilities, we are doing the opposite of what our growth-minded society tells us is obvious and natural. In 2021, we are going underground.
Kairos Exchanges are unlearning journeys that bring communities of alternative activism and postactivist practices together. They are about seeing with new eyes, creating emancipatory knowledges together, and stitching quilts of solidarity especially with groups in precarious circumstances. It is about fellowship, sharing and siblinghood. It is about listening-together-with. It is making-kin-with in a performance of mutual fragility and radical hospitality. They are an opportunity to braid our lives together and an exchange of gifts between parties, honouring an old cross-cultural tradition of receiving the traveller and being generous to one’s host. They offer fissures in our day-to-day lives for both traveller and host that call upon a mutual openness to change. It is cooking together, singing together, picking mushrooms together, eating together, and crying together. Kairos Exchanges give potential host an opportunity to see themselves through their hospitality, to notice their own lives, as if for the first time.
We need new ways of knowing and being with the world. Our attempts at leadership, change and activism, while well intended are often too embedded in the very systems we wish to liberate ach other from. We need spaces to listen in for what might be wanting to emerge if only we had the courage to slow down in urgent times.
The journey of ‘Vulture’ offers a different shape of hope: hope not in saviours or solutions but in the smell of soil, the migration of birds, and the intense beauty of seeing each other dance at the edge of things.
informed by the lineage of the black fugitive invocation, “steal away”, we call upon the wisdom of encoded songlines rooted in negro spirituals that supported enslaved black folks to share subversive liberation paths toward freedom. In a time of hypervisibility and hypersurveillance, we inquire how studying and living maroonage and fugitivity in a translocal community of practice can weave an embodied research network of radical hospitality, regeneration and refuge across the country. casting the homophonic spell, steal a way, we intend to make a way out of no way; to reveal a path that invites us to retreat to a time outside of time.
Photo from Lead to Life Oakland Alchemy Ceremony 2019 by Ayse Gursoz.
Imagine other possibilities of being alive. Imagine ruptures and openings in spaces of suffering. Imagine other shapes and genres of being human. Imagine other futures and temporalities. Imagine the im/possible.
Vunja is a research/art/social justice/carnival project that celebrates black, invisible and marginalized bodies by attending to startling potentials for wiser worlds in their very conditions of exception. Going beyond the perennial fight for inclusion or concerns about exclusion, and noticing that there are other places of power, Vunja is a radical site for approaching the emancipatory possibilities alive at the edges of white modernity, of conventional hope, and of racial identity.