dear steve / curious timing as i prepare for the grand project of re-enchantment as an artist, educator, and citizen / thank you for the invitation.
thoughts informed by the introduction to my book, vestigial enclaves and sacral enclosures, recently published in detroit at salt & cedar:
all aspirations, all claims of newness, innovation, and creative philanthropy ultimately arrive and settle on, and within, gorgeously varied and exhaustively tortured sites of contest, ancient and still alive - and here we have thriving secret, and in-clear-sight, multitudinous communities: no flight narratives, no ruin indulgences, no habituated lethargy, but the remarkable continuity of life itself, both human and non-human - the trumpeted claims of the media concerning the awaiting resources, space and license for young creatives will result in more of the temporal supremacy estates we now witness. if we plan on arriving here, we must also prepare to counter these boutique agonies. we must gradually claim participatory rights in a refrain situated between the demands of the past - for only what has disappeared will have called for us [and so much has disappeared in detroit, yes, the calls are deafening] - and the needs of the future - for only what needs-to-be-held awaits there [and so much needs to be clenched, embraced, and re-enchanted, yes]. to participate is to distribute - to prepare for the relational improvisation with, and to be in proximity to, countless milieu refrains, natal refrains, and the grand project of the refrain of the earth - all already here, and well underway, is the critical ask.
the territory is not primary in relation to the qualitative mark; it is the accretion of marks that makes the territory. i am not at all convinced that liberatory pedagogy, of any substance, will originate or transmit from the art-industrial complex of museums, art-schools, foundations, patrons, donors and sponsors. this system cannot teach. the potential of our collective, living efforts will not be realized in thinking and then again in the genesis of the thing, the event, the exhibition, the new department, the new curator, the new artist, etc but in the vivid and variegated processions between and within our many milieu refrains.
i hope to join a procession, what edith turner calls liminal communitas.
sending love from riopelle street. xoxoxo
Leon Johnson Leon Johnson is an artist and writer. He is a Kresge Fellow. He, his partner, Megan O'Connell, and his sons Leander and Marlowe, run SALT AND CEDAR LETTERPRESS in Detroit. His book VESTIGIAL ENCLAVES / SACRAL ENCLOSURES: THE FOX CREEK BIOME is available in a limited edition through Salt and Cedar Letterpress. He lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.