WE’RE SO BUSY IT SEEMS WE CAN BARELY DO ANYTHING BUT TWEET ANYMORE N THIS RECAP JAWN MISSING ALEX’S INPUT BUT CHECK BACK N MAYBE … STAYING W/UR RENT PAID N UR CAREER ON COURSE IS REAL SHIT YO
2015 was an intense year of collaborations, opportunities, and firsts, all with the support and love of my woadies at METROPOLARITY and in Philadelphia. The following is a rundown of life giving moments from last year:
- Reading Sofia Samatar’s haunting story “Tender” after discovering Ethan Robinson’s sick sci-fi blog http://maroonedoffvesta.blogspot.com/
- Hoo-banging on the science fiction establishment on the rooftop of the Free Library at the ‘Geekadelphia Presents: The Future of Philly Sci-Fi and Fantasy’ panel. Seeing all the homies posted up in the back while Rasheedah dropped all the knowledge.
- Debuting an homage to bae and Philadelphia, “THROWED THE FUCK OFF AS THE SUN SETS AND THE RATS COME OUT IN THE CITY THAT FED ME AND FEEDS ME,” at NOWTOPIA multimedia event with Grey Nebraska and Martin Peeves at Drexel’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery. Being surrounded by black plexiglass and polyurethane stalagmites and ponds and all the Philly neighbors was like my personal utopian swampland fête.
- Joining Rasheedah, Moor Mother Goddess, Nyfolt, Theo Paijmans and Bryan Green at the Afrofuturism NOW Festival at WORM Rotterdam, Netherlands. My first time in Europe, discovering all the Caribbeans in the Netherlands, giving workshops about insanity, and imbibing probably the best chai tea I’ve ever experienced.
- Receiving Kiese Laymon’s Long Division and Marlon James’s A History of Seven Killings for Christmas. Also, acquiring The Spook Who Sat at the Door by Sam Greenlee.
- Debuted audiovisual-literary collaboration with Joann of Nyfolt at this year’s Afrofuturist Affair. InsemNation and our adventures with The Grub gained some senses.
I’m looking forward to another year of art and action, workshops, collabos, hard truths, introspections, and revolutions [big and little].
2015 sped by as an uncanny, almost detached span of time, where I placed the majority of my daily resources and energy towards deep introspection & healing in several areas of domestic abuse, sexual trauma, and generational violence. When I think about what Metropolarity did this year, I am impressed and also surprised, like how did we pull all this off? As a group that supports each other. That’s how.
In the interest of lol classwar and encouraging open discussion of money flow & access to affluence, I would characterize 2015 as the year Metropolarity started getting paid. We were invited to read and perform at a number of art and educational institutions, which paid us modestly (around $100 or under), often handsomely ($300 or more), for our time and presence. We had to fill out W-9 forms beforehand, and would receive checks in the mail weeks later. (This means we will be taxed for this money in 2016.) This extra income, for all of us I think and definitely for myself, helped me to pay my rent, my one loan with my momma’s name on it, get ahead on bills, and allowed me to put some of my regular work income into savings. I wish more artists getting paid in this manner would talk about it, because before this year, it was not obvious to me that any money was involved at all for artists gaining notoriety in the established physical spaces of universities, museums, and galleries. I suppose this notion came from my own experiences pouring my creative/skilled/critical labor into DIY scenes and academic endeavors during college, where you do a monumental amount of work with little to no expectation of, or even negative income. The lesson here to me is that when you begin to produce critical work outside of an institutional affiliation, which can be seen by those institutions and is attractive to them as a means to stay relevant to their constituents, they will inevitably invite you into their towers with the very real lure of money. Several times this year, Metropolarity discussed how to conduct ourselves in these institutions, to protect ourselves against cultural vampirism and other exploitative possibilities. Protect your neck.
With that said, here is what I remember out of the fog of my 2015:
- Being a part of ERASURE, Anthony Romero’s curatorial fellowship with PEW, where he arranged for us to have a feature night of reading & Q/A at Vox Populi Gallery’s AUX space. For this I wrote and read a very personal piece mixing dystopian surveillance and my own multiracial background. This was in January and it made me wonder if it would be the pinnacle of our existence, it felt almost too special and focused on just us. Now I feel like it was the signal of what was to follow.
- Tabling as featured guests at Rhode Island’s Independent Publishing Expo in March. RIPExpo organizers & fest attendees made us feel super grateful, allowing us a panel and setting up an after-hours reading event that had some of the best sound & epic lighting we got to experience. wauw.
- Being invited as a featured reader at the June 2015 Trans Literary Salon, which felt like a huge honor but also made me value Metropolarity that much more as a sci-fi specific crew. I couldn’t help feeling out of place as the only person reading long-form fiction amongst a bevy of seasoned poets.
- Getting a b-day wish fulfillment from DJ Haram, who let me do a dramatic reading (with ambient soundscape!) of my favorite Robin Hood story about clowning authority, robbing priests, and wrecking a wedding at this show.
- Mobbing on that Geekadelphia future of Philly Sci-Fi & Fantasy panel
- Reading live on the fucking radio!!! Thanks to Penn’s Kelly Writer’s House inviting us for an hour of FM airtime. That was a dream come true and I hope we get to keep doing shit like that in the coming seasons.
- Selling a $26 short story that comes with this free Desire Hope Despair tee, which you can still buy here.
- The deep satisfaction, sense of urgency in, and feeling of gratitude reading Otros Valles and Incomplete Short Stories and Essays by Jamie Berrout, a queer Mexican trans woman. Necessary reading.
- Getting a letter saying I won the Leeway Transformation Award. Reading the panelists’ comments on my work MADE ME CRY. Now I have all this award money that is blowing my working class mind but also making me scared that the debt collectors are gonna come for me any minute.
For 2016, I need to figure out how to use my increasing access to resources in smart, replenishable ways that help out me, my squad, and those who come after us.
RASHEEDAH HAD A BUSY YEAR…
THE EVENTS RECAP
JAN — Metropolarity x Anthony Romero presents “Erasure” at Vox Populi Gallery
MAR — Featured at RIPEXPO w/ @Metropolarity w/ Folded Tense performances at AS220 and featured on panels: Social and Poltical Motivation in Art in Providence RI @ripexpo
MAY — Metropolarity featured at New Museum (Temporary) Collections of Ideas around Speculation
JUNE — @metropolarity presents NOWTOPIA intermedia performance with Martin Peeves and Counterfeit at Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery
SEPT — Metropolarity/Afrofuturist Affair/Black Quantum Futurism featured at Paper Jam IV free small press/zine/comic fair
– Featured w/ Metropolarity on Future of Philly Scifi and Fantasy panel, Geekadelphia and Free Library of Philadelphia
– Panelist on Parables of the Present Dystopia at Ferguson is the Future: Speculative Arts + Social Justice, with Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Nisi Shawl, Andrea Hairston, and
– PHILA•LALIA small press // hand made book & art fair
– Black sci-fi creators assemble at Princeton and imagine better worlds than this one featured in Philadelphia Weekly
– Metropolarity + Moor Mother Goddess featured at LIVE! @ Kelly Writer’s House
OCT — Co-Curated and presented at AFROFUTURISM NOW! Festival in Rotterdam, NL, feat King Britt, Islam Chipsy, Moor Mother Goddess, Mutamassick, , Metropolarity, film festival, art by Charl Landvreugh, Dogon Krigga and more… Performances and Programs here.
NOV — Presented at Future Perfect: Future Imaginaries from the New Right to the Afrofuturist Affair, workshop and screening with filmmaker Daniel Tucker, Slought, Philadelphia PA
DEC — Metropolarity Presents “You Have 4 Messages” written in parallel with Sondra Perry: My Twilight Zone Thing as part of the Recess Arts Critical Writing program. Free zine download available and 1 of 4 audio messages