From January 18 – May 10, 2014, Antena was in residence at Blaffer, where they inhabited various spaces of the museum to explore how critical views on language could help us to reimagine and rearticulate the worlds we live in.
Antena facilitated a number of initiatives: books for sale from small independent presses and DIY endeavors throughout the U.S. and Latin America showcasing innovative writing by women, people of color, queer communities, and others outside the normative canon; an exhibition of work combining literary and visual arts, with artists from Houston and the wider U.S. as well as Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico; a weekly class titled “In The Between: At the Intersections of Writing, Art, Politics,” open to the public and UH students enrolled for credit in the interdisciplinary art minor (IART) on Tuesdays from 5:30-8:30pm; public workshops in writing, bookmaking, translation, and language justice; and, from February 13 – 16, an encuentro (gathering) of Antena’s participating artists, who gave public readings and performances, participated in panel discussions and open conversations, and led workshops and community interventions outside the museum. A schedule of some of those events is available here.
Antena views aesthetic practice as part and parcel of language justice work. In their ongoing efforts to create spaces in which everyone is able to express themselves in their preferred language, Antena is also invested in cross-cultural artistic production, reading, writing, bookmaking, and the visual arts. Interdisciplinary and multilingual, Antena explored these intersections further by inviting eleven artists from Houston, the wider U.S. and Latin America to exhibit their work at Blaffer. Participating artists are Benvenuto Chavajay (Sololá, Guatemala), Jamal Cyrus (Houston), Maria-Elisa Heg (Houston), Autumn Knight (Houston), Sueyeun Juliette Lee (Philadelphia), Ayanna Jolivet McCloud (Houston), Nuria Montiel (Mexico City), Kaia Sand (Portland), Efraín Velasco (Oaxaca), Cecilia Vicuña (New York/Santiago), and Stalina Villarreal (Houston). This selection of artists was designed to facilitate conversation and collaboration between Houston literary and visual arts communities and practices occurring nationally and internationally. The group gathered February 13 – 16, 2014 at Blaffer and other sites around Houston.
Antena @ Blaffer was supported through the Innovation Grants program of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts which is funded in part by the Houston Endowment, Inc. The exhibition was organized by Amy Powell, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, with Jen Hofer and John Pluecker.
Antena’s first installation took place at Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas from March – June 2012 as part of Round 36. Antena @ PRH was a durational performance and a functional space where a range of multilingual literary adventures were activated:
* a bookspace and reading room with hundreds of small-press and DIY publications from autonomous presses in The Americas
* a large collection of books from independent presses featuring innovative work by African-American, Latino and Latin American writers
* a read/write club that met weekly for 10 weeks
* poem-making on manual typewriters and on specially-programmed computers
* ongoing writing and bookmaking exercises
* a documentation pillar where anyone who wished could share the texts they typed
* literary and performance events
* wide-ranging conversations with people who visited the space.