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Issue 24

Head of Earth

24.10.2022 - 23.01.2023

First let us define our terms.
What, in our context, is the novel?
What, in our context, is history?
What is our context?
Sylvia Wynter1

A few months ago I was leaning towards the earth to sow as a sign of mourning, recognition, and transformation. My brother, a few steps away, told me that this body composition that I performed when leaning towards the earth to sow was a form learned in the plantations and he wondered how this choreography had reached my body and continued to be sustained there.

Sylvia Wynter states that history, “these things that happen to us”—on the plantation—are fiction. A fiction written, dominated, controlled by forces external to itself. Great fictions created by the emergence of the market economies that have bewitched ouramerica—and have us under their spell: the plantation as machine, extinction as threat, disappearance as ontological horizon, developmentalism as civilizing value, cleanliness and service as labor force and moral imposition, and lack and debt as material and spiritual continuity of colonization. Pain as a promise. Ouramerica not only has open veins, but we have been dispossessed and turned into communities dependent on commodity by-products—sugar cane, soy, coca, coal, lithium, gold, copper—so we work for the necro- and narco-affective support of objectual fantasies that dispossess us. We grew up on a pile of battered, dismembered bones, a pile of faces hungry for justice. Why? How did we get here?

Sylvia says that only when a community or others reveal themselves against those fictions, and their writings, when we snatch the pen with which they write us, only then do we enter the temporal course, we become time. That is why we know that what we tear, draw, move with our bodies, our skin, and our eyes filled with pain and hope, is not a novel. It is the way to tell the stories of those without history, to read the writing of those without rest, the march of grandmothers and mothers looking for their children in the street, the dance of travestis surviving in prisons, the wish to wake up enchanted, raising a fist, gathering saliva, weaving braids, conjuring stars, talking to mushrooms, singing.

The gaze of the lizards comes to an end.

In the preceding quiescences, we invoked the possibility of an emancipation other than that of mere survival and we wondered if we could give ourselves a common erogenealogy on colonial trauma and the pleasures of resistance. In this last blink of an eye, we invite you to listen: Will it be possible for us to account for the particular way in which the politics of death traverse the field of affects—of art, the commercialization of the symbolic, of the “body of work,” with the artist’s own body? Will we be able to talk about the pain, rage, and helplessness produced by the imperatives of celebration, beauty, and happiness? Is violent death only conjured by narratives of overcoming and wellbeing?

We gather here to reflect on the specific modulations in relation to the suffering of the individual and collective body: disappearances, torture, dismemberment, exile, genocide, servitude, erasure; to recount the multiple forms of dislocation and resistance to these—our—economies and fantasies of violent death, and our ceremonies of healing, insurgency, and mourning.

In the heart of my world my brother and I planted agaves, and the stalk will bear fruit.

They only need to forbid us to cry
to tear us down to the heart
scream with me2

1.Sylvia Wynter, “Novel and History, Plot and Plantation”, in Savacou no. 5, (1971) 95-102.
2.Fragment of the song Taki Ongoy II [Taki Onqoy, the disease of singing, dancing to the stars: South American Andean insurgency movement of the 17th century] from the album of the same name by Victor Heredia, 1986. Version sung by Mercedes Sosa recorded in De mí, 1991.

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