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Torkwase Dyson: Black Compositional Thought | SXSW 2021

Torkwase Dyson
Artist at Torkwase Dyson
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SXSW 2021
March 20, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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Torkwase Dyson: Black Compositional Thought | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Torkwase Dyson
Artist at Torkwase Dyson
Mario Gooden
Architect, Writer at Huff + Gooden Architects
Andrés Jaque
Founder at Office For Political Innovation

Torkwase Dyson describes herself as a painter working across multiple mediums to explore the continuity between ecology, infrastructure, and architecture. Examining environmental racism as well as the history and future of black spatial liberation strategies, Dyson’s abstract works grapple with the ways in which space is perceived and negotiated, particularly by black and brown bodies. Torkwase Dyson was born in Chicago and spent her developmental years between North Carolina and Mississippi. Traversing these geographies helped develop formal concerns of compositions, movement, precarity, distance and scale. For Dyson addressing these conceptual and formal concerns is a poetic affirmation of humanity and resistance. Dyson received a BA from Tougaloo College in 1996, a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and MFA from Yale School of Art in painting/printmaking in 2003.

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Mario Gooden is a cultural practice architect and founding principal of Huff + Gooden Architects. His practice engages the cultural landscape and the intersectionality of architecture, race, gender, sexuality, and technology. Gooden is also a Professor of Practice at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) of Columbia University where he is the co-director of the Global Africa Lab (GAL).

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Andrés Jaque is an architect, writer, and curator. He is the founder of the Office for Political Innovation, a New York/Madrid-based agency working at the intersection of research, critical environmental practices, and design. He received the 10th Frederick Kiesler Prize for the Architecture and the Arts. Jaque is the Director of the Advanced Architectural Design Program at Columbia University and the Chief Curator of the 13th Shanghai Biennale Bodies of Water.

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About the talk

Drawing on the artist’s theory of “black compositional thought ”, Torkwase Dyson brings Architect Mario Gooden and architect, writer and curator Andrés Jaque to discuss art, climate, migration and the architectural imagination in the time of the  “Plantationocene.” Two of the most pressing issues of our time are capitalism human-induced climate change and their indelible relationship to modernism, racial/plantation slavery and industrialized white supremacy. In relation to Dyson’s work the three consider the following: What of art and architecture composed from quotidian histories of autonomous indigenous and black world building? And how do new encounters with scale, distance, water and evolving ecosystems shape infrastructures where liberation systems live on?


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Good morning Andre and Mario, thank you for joining me in this conversation. This is an ongoing conversation between the three of us and that conversation about ideas of Liberation conditions for years now, maybe since 2016 and under it says, we have a new relationship with art making an idea and that you've invited me to participate in the same high Vienna Jonas, been Incredible Journey, thinking of geography and how these kinds of history of geography

related to my work. And that's all I have a conversation about a basin. How artist curators architect, who are in kilometers for these different ideas to make collaboration and Lily. How to share, what I think it is a critical moment of the day around issues of climate change Blackfish. Alliteration alliteration, for people of color globally, in general. But to think what they think about the ways in which we think together and we also think across Lane to push each other and to

encourage each other and support each other, and both exhibition as comrades and thinkers and also people who understand the dark object can hold so much, just a little information and Doctor Spell critical time, project that I have up now. In this image is a piece that is at the Wexner Center for the Arts. And I want to start with this in this because I think, when our conversation Andre, we often talk about layering and liquidity and movement and water and distance, and this piece is titled

everything inside. I am everything that will save me. And that idea come from by meditations on thinking about kinship with people across the planet and locally in the ways in which we share a college that are precarious right now in the history of those could carry being related to a color presentation labor. You know the Middle Passage and Global modernism that really disrupted kind of relationship that we have with the Earth. So can we talk a bit about the project and

say hi. And what where? Thinking about together when waxing you know time and if we have this kind of conversation in Mario of course feel free to enter the conversation before we talked about your new piece at the Museum of Modern Art similar issues. I mean it's a good moment to have this conversation after these years of all ready on time, but the recent time of discussion work. Also because so many things happened in the last month, I think you're interested in the Yangtze River. The way the melting of

the glaciers is part of a long process in which basically regimes of exploration and vulnerability are very much bodied equally or by people animals climax, ecosystem coming from the mountain of the glacier is also an opportunity to accumulate power power power of dissidence. Fashion that we've been having what's happening in a bottle or two? Of course, growing Awareness on the implications of climate crisis. Racial issues that need to be brought to a huge urgency across the world in a

something that wasn't a body break the technician. MEC, sco dorband consisting of your work. And the way your word bring, I would say this to distress call of liquidity to the first color of the solution in this discussion right about the time. This idea of liquidity and accumulation from State came, and I just kind of ideas of things constantly moving, and I was thinking about, in my own practice, in my own Studio, C ideas. Like this constant state change is almost become a

meditation in my work, right? So literally, I wrote on a piece of paper the other day only state change only state change, only state changed, either way to get to understandings of repetition understanding of accumulation in all of these no function under the condition of movement constantly. And this movement, then as on to the paternity of our relationship that all sentient beings. And I'm interested in the way in which this medication of no constant ache pain. Fake change has

worked his way to the hospital, right? Because I Changes as the ground changes as the greatest danger would inevitably changes. Also, if I give the surface density, I'm really interested in the work that is coming to Shanghai. Really inviting that because I also understand that someone interested in this idea of movement that Liberation and resistance against that issue of power can come in very small ways and very large way. So what is this relationship with the

quotidian in the phenomenological where Liberation strategies can write. So I'm thinking like 10 and we actually took it across right now on migration. So can you talk a little bit about what it is to think through migration think through What is to be an architect and function, in recognition of Juno really Race Face, facial, liberation of a necessary condition of the forms that you make as an architect. And I would argue as I just got there. Yeah. I mean for me I've always been interested in the liberty of potentials of Subspace. Perhaps not so much that

the form of architecture or what it looks like or Statics. But the potential for space to be Liberatore through the imagination, but also through your movements. And I think that now our ancestors, I think that is indigenous people's whether or not they were Native, Americans are first world. People are First Nations people off of North America or indigenous people in the global South have always been had this very, very strong relationship with that, with water, understanding water, a space with understanding laboratory to the

potential of moving through the air. Moving through the environment. So, you know, I'm interested as an architect and the if you will in the end of intersectionality of space of Liberation, and of the environment, and I think that is something that, you know, we you and I are are trying to bring not together with our students in the work that we are doing the studio and the architecture Studio. That I'm also interested been in my work and for me architecture, then becomes an instrument or, or or vehicle by which to those

relationships and we were talking about architectures and Tool, I'm just the other day. Yes, we were talking about and it was a revelation. I think we were having a real time in the idea that how and I think we talked about this, how do we think about that when we make our object that are that are object has an Economy Inn in the idea that the object of value in itself as an option, right? But that I kinda me sister to the ceiling. Kind of me when you talk about me and you, right? And what it does and what kind of narratives that carry and what kind of implications,

it has material Lee in relationship to the found in Youngstown. And then that kind of instrument in relationship to the found in the Youngstown. Then can really architecture or art as an instrument can really could have create the space of poetic, right? And get at things that don't have language and get our things that we might not. Uncovered. Yes, yet. As we think about solutions for the climate crisis and I think that thinking about work of art and architecture as an instrument and I was a really wonderful conversation that we were having Mario sister really kind of radical

shift me to write as an instrument to think about the ways in which the poetic that come out of this instrument as objects. In the round. Thinking about piccalilli architecture in sculpture and how we think Harry sometimes. The density of the things that need to be shifted radically for environmental Innovation. And also carry the new on the tivity quietness and Stillness that also needs to be had as we pushed towards people live in thinking, I dress a little bit, About the ways in which

the geography of Shanghai and the relationship between my work and your work, as a curator, and this moment in isolation, you know, via quarantine and that they're there. And we are time people really adamantly and with skill and improvisation. You know, politicizing the history of geography in Shanghai, right? And we are in solidarity with that in very many ways. And we talked about how your project, no, look that you're bringing, all of these conversations around the desire for radical climate change and ride with you. I kind of synergy with the planet

as I as Mario talked about very much in relationship to engineer an Indigent natee of the global Style. I mean, I know we talked about it before but I think in this way, I think it'd be interesting to try to pull out of what Mario thinking about this idea special liberation. Anyway, I think that it's, it's, it's typing that your work is going to be seen in San high and don't really seem like it's going to be a therapist. And at the time that all these enactment of modernity, explotation

assistant voice based on the of the explanation of the human and environment have large, and we are seeing that. I can bring the chili process, process of collapse. Think that is very important, and it's your the way that you were exploring. The autonomy of the breed a Snorlax saturated. Something that is not in itself, as it would be nice to be understood by the something that in it. Witness is also participating of large chainsaw and tanglement painting in. It's not losing.

Actually its greatness without actually understanding its completeness of something that participate in the Stars Network to have a clean, a different way of power or dissident, a beating in the ocean, by which the agreement is not denied, but rather understood complex Any something that also I think it's been put on the way your workers incorporate, more formal and known as I lay only when bodies human bodies are involved, but in the way there's a tension between different shapes and base. Clear

leader in tackles of other materials are transitioning. And so interesting that sound go to the side for a moment. Thank you. So I want you to think about as I moved to be sculptures, is this conversation between soonest time distance movement and the safe language? But I've been thinking about an inch or grappling with black people and specifically the globally in this idea of existing in the wake of the transatlantic slave trade and that body, right? That that that Oceanic body is a space where all of us to think about ancestor step

on that Middle Passage Avenue. Way I can be coming out of a longing simultaneously, so that kind of Sweetness in relationship to material and I'm just going to Presented in a way that these things are unfit, things are always in a condition of State train. And when you talk about encounter, make me think of And if things work out where this idea for karity encounter in relationship to modernism in migration as a global phenomenon, in relationship to freedom and Justice in the natural way. And with humans, desire and need to move to be in relationship to be in a relationship to the planet.

And the wind was modernism modernism by capitalism in odisha global of passion. And I really think this is constant violence around the notion of movement, right? But a physical movement or at the end of the ways in which people perceive things and move through space, before the way, their minds are still in their brain does. Do I do this in the body? Go through all. So right so I just I just want to thank you. Come back around to this idea. The series that I've been working on in

Mario, we talked about this before. Black composition of thought as a wheel for the project for me to understand the win with the brain works. The way in with the human mind works to think about this facial condition of movement, fight that I mind, and a brain in relationship to the air. We breathe the food, we have the love and conditions in relationships. We may make us very capable of moving through spaces with great technique of great improvisation. But so the way we think about these that have movement through space and time and

how we negotiate the built environment, right? And here we go, back to the start of concreteness in relationship to. This is phenomenological. All the shapes that I use are very related to the built environment and how black people people of color, negotiate, the built environment in relationship to freedom in relationship to what it what it means to have a more live. You know, so let's talk about that a bit Mario. We've been in conversation and I've been toiling and struggling with this idea black competition. Trying to. I said if

the work is the way in which I have a Save-A-Lot compositional thought, yes, it's a process, it does not lead to Swiss table object. I think that there's a certain precarity if you will in the things that you're making while. Yes, they are formal. I think what's also revealed in the work are ways in which there is resistance to a particular way of understanding that form of understanding that former as having a certain power. So whether or not it's Position of the

object of the sculpture or whether or not it is the play of perspective. But as one moves through the gallery, as one encounters to work, one understanding of it continually sort of changes and evolve and I think that is no give me. That is what most interesting and potent in the way in which the object is no longer fixed. If you will. It's really no longer fix. His face is really no longer fixed as a as a thing and I am interested in Billy's for architecture to do the same thing where it's no longer fixed everything

form might actually support itself. What song is this playing? Yeah, I'm interested in that I'm fixing. So I want to Savannah. Make that for a second. Can we go back to the images decide? If I'm 16 in relationship to my ability and then we can fit a round out around this idea of the unfixed movement modularity that I think Andres and Maria are both in climbing on a zine. Image. I've not to go through all of these guys, sorry. Okay, here we go. So let's talk about this idea of the unstick, the modular right? In this idea between sculpture in the way and with its I am in the

moment when I'm trying to really think about sculpture as and decided on Mexican dish and where the shape you see here to scale the tapes that were in there in the Expedition earlier. So how do we use exhibitions, as he's nonstick, sintetis also, so you see and hear 7 shapes, that can be combined and can be extracted from each other bloated from each other, in the way, than, with art-making really follow this precarity, right? So, how do we push that

precarity in relationship? The forms that are indelibly, connected to a, kind of modern condition of extraction of racial capitalism still can buy and then, and how do we make these into? Is an object explosion, you know and kind of Twizzler I in relationship to their real connection to Liberation. And I mean that in this to say that even in these conditions that people do survive, they do insist, they do live late. They do find samaritana me, they do find live together

after. I'm just interested in that conversation between sculpture and architecture hard and really think about Mobility. Think about migration. Think about moving it in the phlogiston. And how do we create objects in relationship to their modular modularity? Stick to the micro and macro and push against the Horrible Histories of a kind of modernism. I say this is my first time seeing your architectural drawings or what have you here, but what I see here is also the possibility to misread to destroy, you know, the space that they are communicating. So what might

appear to be solid, as I actually just got itself a service that turns inside and out for the questions of interior. RT vs. Exterior, RT. So, that's where I think, you know, comes and the improvisation if you will of obliteration or improvisation as a laboratory could have packed it. I have a feeling that your work is, redefining what it means to move and it's moving. Its kind of promotional turn the liberal movement of being sent and then trades around the world. As if nothing happened material would be since they moved in with

his material, is really not that much yet displacement. But I would say, transitioning transitioning, basic new forms of composition of the collective, a mention of of the individuals. And I think that is very much for the attention that you pay to Houston become a smooth transition, transition in reality, Also has a huge political Dimension because it will implies that there's the origin or the destination are just impossible. What is he pulled? That? Everything

is fine and I'm interested in your work. Thank you so much for this conversation. What is that? I was just saying that brings it back to the States change. Finish this conversation, and I think we've just gotten started. But as always, thank you both equally for engaging all the time. So what? We'll speak soon. Thank you so much. Thank you.

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Torkwase Dyson
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Andrés Jaque