Wxtch Craft 2020/21 - Spring Cycle: The poisons, the remedies

Trigger warning: rape abuse

The Spring sessions have emerged from conversations we had with johanna, adrienne, Silvia, Denise, Valentina, Dana, Luanda and melanie in the previous semester. Like a council of elder Wxtches they helped us navigate through the dark night of 2020s' soul. A truly wretched year in which we witnessed a rabid patriarchy on the defense. With every eruption of toxic masculinity the Wxtch feels their scars itch; these that centuries of sexist, racist and ableist violence have left on her body. They know about the poisons, they know about the remedies.

Recordings - Spring Cycle


Staci Bu Shea and Leana Boven (Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons) host: Barn's burnt down – now I can see the moon with CA Conrad, Camisha L. Jones, and Ching-In Chen

Drawn from a haiku by 17th century Japanese poet Mizuta Masahide, Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon is a poetry roundtable that centers around how articulating the ways struggle, pain and loss inevitably changes us also opens possibilities for careful attention, new forms of connection, and unlocked essential wisdom. For the second online event and final digital coven of the Wxtch Craft 20/21 season, we gather around readings by three poets: CA Conrad, Camisha L. Jones, and Ching-In Chen. They read from their work and discuss how poetry helps to understand and translate difficult experiences, and complicates simple narratives of healing or solutions to be “cured” and “fixed.” Instead, it informs our nexus of Disability justice, intergenerational witnessing, and holding space for grief.


Resources provided to prepare for this session:


Staci Bu Shea and Leana Boven invite Mia Mingus, Not a Playground, and Radical Roadmaps, co-presented by Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons

Writer, community organizer, and disability justice activist Mia Mingus elaborates on “access intimacy” and shares what it can look like in our communities in this first online event. Initially coined on her blog Leaving Evidence in 2011, access intimacy is an “elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else gets your access needs” and a sense of “comfort that your disabled self feels.” This kind of intimacy, considered by Mingus and many from disability communities as “the missing link” across structural limitations of access and community building, paves way for interdependent connections as opposed to isolating, individual circumstances. Access intimacy can extend to class, race, and gender, and make space for the pain and trauma related to other forms and intersections of oppressive experience.

Not a Playground (NAP), a grassroots organization, activist research collective who focuses on collecting and reflecting on institutional critique in the (Dutch) arts/culture/design fields, participates in this session with an opening contribution. Initially formed in protest last September, NAP reflects on their organizing processes as it relates to transformative justice and envisioning for a future regenerated after the burn.

Radical Roadmaps is a graphic recording and illustration practice. It aims to create accessible and visual political education tools and offer live recording for organizations doing movement and liberation work. It primarily works digitally and is looking to collaborate with organizations, organizers, writers and artists to break down complex topics and frameworks in beautiful, meaningful and memorable graphics. Particularly focused on working with BIPOC led organizations and organizers, it has created graphics on topics such as base building, mental health stigma, sex work decriminalization, reproductive justice, prison abolition & more.


Resources provided to prepare for this session:


LARP - play as politics and somatic imagination

How play, games, and the purposeful design or construction of social interactions can lead to successful social and political change through the lens of what philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once referred to as “Fused Groups.”

By focusing on such movements as the neo-anarchist Provo Movement in the 60’s and the emergent Larpers of the World, she will explore how such activities can form a baseline of participants who can embody and facilitate decentralized collective action of people ready and willing to exercise their agency, flexible federations that can mobilize institutional power, and perhaps even people who form civic groups in the face of state and other superstructural collapse.


Resources and pre-watch material provided by Susan Ploetz

Explanation on LARP
What is Nordic Larp
Nordic Larp wiki

Designing for the Somatic Imagination

Finding Skinship with Soft Robotics through Somatic Larping

Play as politics

On sexual healing and the politics of trauma

‘What does it take to embody justice - and heal from injustice - both personally and politically?’

𝚜𝚎𝚡𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚘𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚞𝚖𝚊

Half way the Spring cycle we have a collected a wealth of insights in our pouch and we feel more than ready to blend, stirr and transform our knowledges in our sizzling wxtchy crucible. Aligning our broomsticks with our skills and capacities, our values and visions. What life-affirming vision of the future can we collectively conjure - for ourselves, for #ourkabk and this complex world we share? What do we keep stored in our mind-body that isn’t serving us? How can we embody the change we want to see and be?

𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗶 𝗞. 𝗛𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀 (she/her) is the co-founder of generative somatics, a multiracial social justice organization bringing somatics to social and environmental justice leaders, organizations, and alliances. Haines is a senior teacher in the field of Somatics and designs and leads programs in Embodied Leadership, Somatics and Trauma, and Somatics and Social Justice, as well as leading teacher training programs. She has a somatic coaching practice that primarily serves social movement leaders and trauma and violence survivors and has been working and teaching in the field of Somatics for the last 22 years.Haines is also the founder of generationFIVE, a social justice organization whose mission is to end the sexual abuse of children within 5 generations through survivor leadership, transformative justice approaches and movement building. Additionally she is the author of Healing Sex: A Mind Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma (Cleis 1999, 2007), a how-to book offering a somatic approach to recovery from sexual trauma and developing healthy sexual and intimate relationships.

𝗺𝗲𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗷𝗼 (they/them) through their films, performances, music and installations, they study subjects related to how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation, removing a sense of belonging in an individual. Captivated by concepts of the divine, Bonajo explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation, the erosion of intimacy, examines peoples’ shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by reflecting on our domestic situation, ideas around classification, concepts of home, non-humans, technology, gender and attitudes towards value.


Material provided by Staci K. Haines, relevant to the session

Reading:


Videos:

Societal Healing and Belonging panel, August 2020

Thrive: Healing for These Times, May 3, 2020

Staci's piece starts at 28.27


Podcasts:

On unwinding binaries, loving justice and the sacred transfeminine**

** For a preview into Kai Cheng's wonderful Loving Justice framework, we recommend you to have a peek at her Instagram: @kaichengthom

** 'The sacred transfeminine is the notion of a mythology that contains psychologically resonant archetypes of transfeminine people in the same way that cisgendered masculinity and femininity are so often framed with archetypal devices such as "the earth mother" and "the hunter-provider."

Kai Cheng Thom: the witch's manifesto


Human beings need mythology to ground and understand ourselves - this is why Jungian archetypes, the Meyers-Briggs, astrology in its many forms, Ayurvedic typology, and other types of cosmologies have retained such popularity over the centuries. Yet in the colonial, Christianized era, gender diverse peoples have been largely erased from mythology - relegated to scientific curiosities or freakish imitations of cisgender tropes. Yet the shadow of the sacred transfeminine looms large in the contemporary consciousness: Ancient, powerful, and deeply challenging.

The transfeminine is figured as both monster and mystic, she is rendered as both hideous and deeply erotic - so feared and desired that our society has tried to destroy her. The very idea of a "man in a dress" remains so potent, so powerful, that it ignites powerful emotion even in this supposedly "tolerant" era. I challenge you to find the sacred transfeminine within yourself - whether or not you are a trans woman or transfeminine-identifying person. What parts of your gendered embodiment have you been forced to exile? What exactly is so frightening, so potent, about being a mannish woman or a womanish man?

I have been visited by the Sacred Transfeminine in visions and dreams. She appears to me as a naked woman with breasts and phallus, flanked by a lion and a lamb, her hands full of sacred fruits. Once, she told me that she saw through the eyes and spoke through the lips of all trans women, that we might teach the meaning of love. Perhaps too, there is a sacred transmasculine, a sacred non-binary, and more sacred gender archetypes than we currently know. What do they have to teach us?'- Kai Cheng Thom

𝕂𝕒𝕚 ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕟𝕘 (𝕒𝕜𝕒 𝔹𝕣𝕚𝕒𝕣 ℝ𝕠𝕤𝕖) (she/her) Thom, MSc, is a somatically trained coach, consultant, and conflict resolution practitioner working at the intersection of mind, body, and collective soul. She is also an internationally published, award-winning author and the developer of the Loving Justice methodology.

ℂ𝕒𝕞𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖 𝔹𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕠𝕟 (they) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and embodiment researcher, who uses afrofuturism to imagine creative interventions towards systems change. They are invested in breaking down the mind body separation that is dominant in Western paradigms in order to create more space for flexible thinking, holistic healing and bridging across differences. Camille’s art practice weaves dance, clowning, DJing, facilitation, film and cultural production.

On data healing, afropresentism and radical love.

** 'Radical Love is a verb, ethic, and revolutionary mindset; a consciousness that demands the liberation of all. As a movement, we create content that theorizes and inspires love-driven struggle.

We believe in love as technology -- a purposeful, solution-oriented application of care -- and our work theorizes what love-technologies could pave the way for a sustainable, mutually-assistive future. Our theory and programming aim to mobilize individual reflection and communal action. Our work at the intersection of art and organizing is in pursuit of healing and liberation from the cultural, social, and spiritual damage inflicted by capitalism.'

** '𝔸𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕡𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕚𝕤𝕞 is you channeling your ancestry through every technology at your disposal - meditation, conversation, love, the Web - and turning absolutely everything into a portal that takes you precisely where you need to be, in this moment, towards the next. Until finally, the space between the dream and the memory collapses into being your reality—now.'

** Resources on 𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕒 𝕙𝕖𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕟𝕘:
www.are.na/neema-xx/data-healing

'What do we want our world(s) to look like and how do we build it with the tools at hand? Data healing is the antidote to violence in our digital existence, arming us with the sight and care needed to decide how we shape an uncertain future'

ℕ𝕖𝕖𝕞𝕒 𝔾𝕚𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 (they/she) is an indigenous-African guerrilla theorist and curator hailing from Nairobi, Kenya and based in the #digitaldiaspora. Their work explores indigenous cybernetics and data healing as a way to illuminate the links between technology, nature and spirituality. Other projects of theirs include Afropresentism - a term they coined in 2017 to articulate digital diasporic cultural production in the here and now - and Radical Love Consciousness, a collective that focuses on re-indigenization through grassroots learning networks.

ℂ𝕒𝕞𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖 𝔹𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕠𝕟 (they) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and embodiment researcher, who uses afrofuturism to imagine creative interventions towards systems change. They are invested in breaking down the mind body separation that is dominant in Western paradigms in order to create more space for flexible thinking, holistic healing and bridging across differences. Camille’s art practice weaves dance, clowning, DJing, facilitation, film and cultural production.

On creating access to embodied healing and building alchemical resilience.


Read a recent piece by Nkem Ndefo: 'When agreement is not consent'


Our bodies can store lifetimes of intergenerational survival knowledge. Cells, muscles and bones remember the lessons learned of having to live in and deal with a hostile society for centuries, day after day. A society that does not really care for people that are poor, handicapped and/or neuro-atypical, or belong to the so-called 'weaker sex'. For people with the 'wrong' skin colour, gender and/or anything that disturbs the capitalist patriarchal heternormative order for that matter.

In this session we learn how to tend to these sometimes hidden wounds in a practical, gentle, but visceral way. How can we regain a sense of agency when we find ourselves cornered in a situation and in a system that does not love us? How can we make and hold space for pain - of ourselves and others - when the going gets tough?

ℕ𝕜𝕖𝕞 ℕ𝕕𝕖𝕗𝕠 is the founder of Lumos Transforms and creator of The Resilience Toolkit. She is a skilled practitioner, dynamic speaker, and valued strategist. She is known for her unique ability to connect with people of all types by holding powerful healing spaces, weaving complex concepts into accessible narratives, and creating synergistic and collaborative learning communities that nourish people’s innate capacity for healing, wellness, and connection.
Her career began in the late 1980’s, providing community health education to distressed populations including IV drug users and youth in foster care. She witnessed intense suffering in these communities; her desire to relieve this suffering spurred her pursuit for the knowledge, understanding, and skills necessary to bring health at its deepest level to all age groups.

ℂ𝕒𝕞𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖 𝔹𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕠𝕟 is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and embodiment researcher, who uses afrofuturism to imagine creative interventions towards systems change. They are invested in breaking down the mind body separation that is dominant in Western paradigms in order to create more space for flexible thinking, holistic healing and bridging across differences. Camille’s art practice weaves dance, clowning, DJing, facilitation, film and cultural production.

Transcript file: 18 February 2021 - Opening Coven with melanie bonajo, Bianca Casady & friends (rtf file)


𝔹𝕦𝕟𝕟𝕪 𝕄𝕚𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕖𝕝(they/them) is a New York based rapper, musician and visual artists who uses encouraging memes as a form of expression and education on mental health and ´higher selfing´, one thought at the time. They use instagram as a magical tool to spread their message of self-love and acceptance, of celebrating everybody’s flawed perfection. These memes feature two versions of themselves: one seems to be sceptical, hyper critical, caught in fear, the other half of the “double”, as Bunny calls these images, represents their higher-self: the wiser, sympathetic side that too often lies dormant and silent in people’s unconscious. To them, this is the epitome of egoism, of ignorance, of alienation towards nature, the source of all life. https://www.bunnymichael.com

𝔹𝕚𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕒 ℂ𝕒𝕤𝕒𝕕𝕪(she/her) is a transversal cross-disciplinary artist, poetess and one-half of the duo Cocorosie. She believes her prose takes its shape as naturally in visual forms as it does in lyrics. In many of her works, words accompany drawings: visionary poems, decadent images floating on covers of burnt books, wax drippings on tarot cards, simulacra of an otherworldly power, evocations of magical rituals.In the inventing of characters and personal myths Bianca often questions the social constructs of religion, gender and associated taboo symbols in Baudelairian-like collisions of the beautiful and the ugly. She run a gallery in Paris called’Mad Vickes Tea House’and exhibited internationally at The Sunday Issue Gallery in Tokyo, Deitch Projects in New York and the Moscow Biennale. In 2013 Bianca initiated the feminist magazine G.A.G. published by Capricious. Drawn to gatherings and collaboration, Bianca has also hosted informal fashion shows, artist salons, book clubs, theatre plays and poetry readings over the years and taught poetry to teens in New York City.

𝔼𝕕𝕘𝕒𝕣 𝔽𝕒𝕓𝕚á𝕟 𝔽𝕣í𝕒𝕤(they/them) is a nonbinary, queer, indigenous (Wixárika) and Brown multidisciplinary artist, curator, educator, and psychotherapist. They work in photography, video art, sound, sculpture, printed textiles, GIFs, performance, social practice, and community organizing, among other emergent genres. Most recently, they have integrated their diverse practices and collaborative partnerships into the creation of large-scale interactive installations and experiences. Seeking to alter states of awareness through the creation of temporary sanctuaries that act as conduits for respite, empathy, self-reflection, humor, and curiosity.https://www.edgarfabianfrias.o...

𝕞𝕖𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕖 𝕓𝕠𝕟𝕒𝕛𝕠(they/them) through their films, performances, music and installations, they study subjects related to how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation, removing a sense of belonging in an individual. Captivated by concepts of the divine, Bonajo explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation, the erosion of intimacy, examines peoples’ shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by reflecting on our domestic situation, ideas around classification, concepts of home, non-humans, technology, gender and attitudes towards value.

Curatorial statement

The Spring sessions have emerged from conversations we had with johanna, adrienne, Silvia, Denise, Valentina, Dana, Luanda and melanie in the previous semester. Like a council of elder Wxtches they helped us navigate through the dark night of 2020s' soul. A truly wretched year in which we witnessed a rabid patriarchy on the defense. With every eruption of toxic masculinity the Wxtch feels their scars itch; these that centuries of sexist, racist and ableist violence have left on her body. They know about the poisons, they know about the remedies.

Also in our artistic communities we are dealing with our own episode of patriarchal violence. Last november, two investigative journalists revealed the long term serial abuses and rapes committed by an artist who received support from many Dutch institutions (including the Royal Academy of Art). Falling hard for his ‘bad boy charisma’, many were clearly willing to turn a blind eye to the many bright red flags surrounding his persona. Performatively floundering in their attempt to assuage the collective horror, many institutions quickly came up with vague apologies and installed investigations that fail to fully convince, let alone overturn a culture of unsafety — as of yet.

Because survivors are right to ask: where were you when we needed you? Is it clear to whom you should apologize to and what a real apology entails? As adrienne maree brown said a few days before this scandal erupted: we don’t want call-outs, we want consequences! And so we wonder: how would a truly trauma informed, healing focused, community-led, survivor centered accountability process look like – in this and other situations? What embodied values would we want this process to have? Or in adrienne’s words: how do we shift our individual, interpersonal, and interorganizational anger towards viable sustainable systemic change?

It is in this spirit that melanie, Camille and Staci with Leana — four artists and cultural workers with an incredibly rich embodied practice themselves — will invite a new council of elders into our digital coven. The strong and soft doula energy of these conversations could nourish this pupal stage we are in, while helping us imagine a world free of oppression. For this, we settle ever deeper into our bodies as the site for pleasure and liberation, tending to old wounds and softening scars so we may remain juicy and lively while doing the work. We are aware that as a limited educational program we don’t have the resources to open a courageous space for the deep healing that century old Wxtch pain needs, let alone sustain long and arduous transformative justice processes we wish for our communities. What we can do is offer non-exhaustive educational resources, like this zine and a place, like our digital covens, so we may stay sensitive, resilient and protected while pushing for change. Please, feel free to take from this garden whatever nourishes your practice most, in alignment with your needs and values, while treading only as fast as your slowest part feels safe too.

Some last curatorial remarks — not all programs have been confirmed or fully defined. Please keep an eye on our Instagram for the latest updates and save the dates! It was an intense year for us all, so let’s take some crip time together and trust some amazing people will join us in their own rhythm. You will also find there our new yet evolving code of conduct; please read it before participating in our covens.

To conclude, this semester is inspired by trauma theory and the grassroots-based philosophy of transformative justice and disability justice; which are largely rooted in indigenous and black organizing traditions from Turtle Island, also known in colonial language as North America. As it goes with any cross cultural exploration, we are acutely aware that some parts will resonate with our lives and sometimes radically different contexts and other parts probably not. We are also aware that the global south has some incredible rich traditions in the above mentioned topics and struggles: rest assured that next year we will continue to fly on with this theme, weaving in relevant voices from near and far that are sympathetic to the cause.

Erika Sprey

Zine

ZINE
Compilation and editing: Dayna Casey, Erika Sprey
Featured texts: Mia Mingus, and Staci Haines
Editorial design: Dayna Casey
Printing, binding and collating: Niam Madlani, Lara Dautun, Dayna Casey
Printed at: KABK RISO workshop, thanks to Astrid Florentinus

Images are a combination of found images and commissioned student/alumni work by Alexandra Martens Serrano, featured work of Sydney Rahimtoola,
Shana de Villiers, Lorena Solís Bravo, and Josephine van Schendel, and drawings
by Afra Eisma and Marthe Prins

Shrine student work featured: Tammam Azzam, Pam Breedveld,
Daaf Brouwers, Faria van Creij-Callender, Romana Klementisová, Niam Madlani,
Stef Reijnierse, Silke Riis, Sohyun Park, Luca Serafini

… and special thanks to all our followers and brujx’s out there for your
inspiration, warmth and encouragement!

Contact

Suggestions/Questions/Remarks

Drop us a note at e.sprey@kabk.nl or j.vangilst@kabk.nl or via @wxtchcraftkabk

Colophon

Curator and concept whisperer: Erika Sprey
Coordinator and unmissable production powerhouse: Janne van Gilst
Graphic design, art-direction, program touchstone: Dayna Casey
Current visual communication featuring an image of Alexandra Martens Serrano
Shrine interventions: all participating KABK students
Shrine underlay by Tommy Smits