Author: Alicia Inez Guzmán

Indigenous Futurisms

A mix tape opens with a NASA countdown. It transitions to the words of John Mohawk, journalist, negotiator in regional and global conflicts, and Indigenous activist of the Seneca Turtle Reserve. The beats that follow are ambient, rhythmic, and transient; each fragment of a song, speech or manifesto morphs into the next without abating.

BP, Earth Day and the Art of Collapse

The month of April marks the forty-fourth anniversary of the first Earth Day.  Officially celebrated on April 22nd, Earth Day was an extended series of events that took place between March and April of 1970 that culminated in teach-ins, and other activities in parks, temples churches and corporate offices.  Garnering more support than civil rights’ or women’s liberation protests, Earth Day marked the beginning of what we know today as the green or environmental movement.1 The month of April also marks the fourth anniversary of the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon spill off the Gulf Coast of Mexico.  Between April 20th and September 19th 2010 nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil discharged from the BP operated Macondo Prospect.  The spill was the worst in U.S. history and continues to adversely affect the Louisiana coastline’s birds, fish and other aquatic organisms.2   Though artist Brandon Ballengee completed his large-scale installation Collapse, a collaborative project with Todd Gardner, Jack Rudloe, Brian Schiering and Peter Warny in 2012, it seems evermore timely to invoke it here at the intersection of two significant anniversaries.  The …

La Orquesta Sinfonica Infantil de la Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez

“My name is Angie. I’m eight years old and I am playing the bass violin. The bass violin has four strings. It’s a really big violin that can be used to do this,” as she demonstrates by playing. This is the first captioned line of a short documentary in Spanish titled Cornflakes: Desayuno en Juárez (Cornflakes: Breakfast in Juárez). In the scene that follows, we see Angie, Cornflakes’ protagonist, sitting against a green wall holding the bass violin, taller and wider than her eight-year old frame, telling us how many strings the instrument has. She looks down with concentration to pluck each with the petite fingers of her right hand. With each sound, she offers a description: “One is called ‘Sol,’ another ‘Rey,’ another ‘La,’ another, ‘Mi.’” The scene ends with Angie’s pronouncement: “that’s how my life began” [Fig. 1]. Angie is one of 195 youth musicians in La Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil de la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), the Children’s Symphony Orchestra of the University of Juárez. Over the course of an academic …