RADICAL ENCOUNTER PODCAST
Casual conversations about everyday resistance, social innovation & collective creativity.
Co-hosted by Patricia Silva & Sofia Varino.
Season 1 guests: Cheryl Dunye, Nayland Blake, Nina Felshin, Malalai Joya, Jack Halberstam, Buzz Slutzky, Margrit Shildrick, Pamela Sneed, Nona Faustine.
Cheryl Dunye: 20 Years After
Release: May 11, 2017
Sofia Varino talks with Cheryl Dunye and producer Marc Smolowitz during the 2016 Berlinale Film Festival at Dunye’s hotel in the center of Berlin, where she was giving press interviews. Like most people, Sofia first discovered Dunye’s work through Dunye’s influential 1996 film Watermelon Woman, now a classic of queer cinema. The film won a Teddy Award at the 1997 Berlinale, and in 2016 the festival organized a special screening to mark the Watermelon Woman twentieth anniversary restoration. 2016 marked an important year in Dunye’s career, when she also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she is currently working on her new feature film Black is Blue. Her visit to Berlin served as the perfect opportunity to reflect on queer, feminist and African-American filmmaking, and to talk about what an ethics of collaboration in queer art practice might entail. Cheryl spoke openly about her struggles as a filmmaker and about the significance of art in our convoluted world.
Nayland Blake: Strong Female Character
Release: May 18, 2017
Patricia Silva talks with Nayland Blake, an American artist, writer, and educator. One of their mottos is: “You are responsible for the continuation of the culture you love. Keep it alive through your actions.” On a hot afternoon in August of 2016, Patricia met Nayland in Brooklyn. Trained in sculpture and known for installation and video work addressing biracial, queer and subcultural identities, Nayland is also a famously good thinker, and an eloquent speaker. In addition to discussing the role of the artist, intimacy, art, and digital culture, Nayland also shares their beginnings as a visual artist, and how their work is beginning to interact with technology.
Nina Felshin: Permeable Worlds
Release: May 25, 2017
Nina Patricia Silva talks with Nina Felshin, an American independent writer, curator, and activist. Nina’s work consistently addresses political urgency, lived experience, and imagination. In September of 2016 we visited an exhibition on the Bowery which sparked a topic that we had to continue later. That conversation is today’s encounter. Nina talks about the publication of her first book, But Is it Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism, and we discuss two photographic projects that were relevant at the time of our conversation: Omar Imam’s photographs of Syrian refugees as published in the New York Times, and Phil Collin’s How to Make a Refugee video at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Malalai Joya: Speaking Up
Release: June 2 2017
Sofia Varino talks with Malalai Joya during Joya’s trip to Berlin in April 2016 for a series of talks and speaking engagements. Joya is a renowned activist and former politician from Afghanistan and author of the memoir A Woman Among Warlords, in which she tells her story. As a member of the Afghan Parliament from 2005 to 2007, Joya spoke up against warlords and war criminals in parliament, which led to the suspension of her mandate in 2007 and earned her the title of “bravest woman in Afghanistan.” Yet when I met her, Joya highlighted instead the courage of her people, especially the women of her country. I attended her talk about torture and violence against women at K9 in Berlin and interviewed her a couple days later. The day we met, the horrific Kabul attack of April 19th, 2016 had just taken place, killing 64 people and injuring hundreds of others, and the brutality of that morning’s events permeated our conversation. Joya spoke about the importance of music, beauty, poetry and storytelling as sources of strength and resilience to keep her going in her struggle to bring democracy and emancipation to her beloved Afghanistan. This conversation was published two days after the May 31, 2017 attack in Kabul.
Jack Halberstam: Lessons in Disruption
Released: June 9, 2017
Sofia Varino talks with Jack Halberstam at the Cyborg conference at the Disruption Lab in Berlin, during which he gave a talk about the politics and ethics of human enhancement technologies. Halberstam is professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California and one of the most influential queer theorists today. He is the author of works like Female Masculinity, The Queer Art of Failure and Gaga Feminism and is working on a new project on the radical possibilities of “the wild” as a transgressive category. This conversation took place in the lobby of the Bethanien Kunstraum, one of Berlin’s main exhibition spaces for contemporary art, and the imposing architecture and transience of the space helped shape our conversation.
Buzz Slutzky: New Uniforms
Release: June 16, 2017
Patricia Silva talks with Buzz Slutzsky, an American artist, writer, and curator who is really, really funny. Buzz’s videos contain a kind of humor that is enjoyed all the more because it’s never an irresponsible jab. Even when Buzz makes fun of themself, it’s playful. I first saw Buzz’s work at the Mix NYC Experimental film festival: Religious Beliebs, a video about a pop-culture savvy Anne Frank and Justin Bieber. This reimagining of Anne Frank’s adolescent was tender, insightful, and enjoyable. A year later, after an exhibition at the Los Ojos gallery in Brooklyn, I saw another video, Clothes Feelings, about the role that our clothes have in how we shape our self-esteem and self-perceptions. In October of 2016, we had this conversation in Buzz’s studio.
S1: Episode 7
Margrit Shildrick: Difference and Danger
Release: June 23, 2017
Sofia Varino talks with Margrit Shildrick in June of 2015 during a conference on posthumanism at the University of Geneva. Shildrick was giving a keynote on immune-politics and Sofia was presenting on environmental justice. Shildrick is professor of gender and knowledge production at Linköping University in Sweden and a key theorist of disability. Shildrick’s work on feminist posthuman ethics and embodied difference has been crucial to Sofia’s own research on bodies and illness. Shildrick is the author of several books including Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Subjectivity and Sexuality, and of many articles in the fields of medicine and philosophy. It was an honor and a pleasure to speak with her about her thought and activism while we sat on a bench in the Parc des Bastions in Geneva during a hot summer afternoon to discuss the role of radical politics and poststructuralist thought in her practice as a philosopher of the body.
Pamela Sneed: The Poet Stands Up
Release: June 30, 2017
Patricia Silva talks with Pamela Sneed, an American poet, performance artist, actress, activist, and teacher. When i first read Pamela Sneed’s Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, my mind was still reeling from the graphic imagery of the Rodney King beating by police. Years later, Pamela published Kong, and by the time of our interview in 2016, America is again facing the consequences of its embedded racism. Racism is not just an exclusive US problem, but the relationship to racism here is very specific. Swirling in the media imagery at the time of our interview in July, was a story about a 4-year-old who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, and whose parents were inevitably met with racist comments. Once again the image of a black or brown body harks back to an othering shaped by the public dialogue of another era: that of an undomesticated animal. I spoke with Pamela about these two books, her trips to Western Africa in the 90s, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and other influential artists and moments that shaped Pamela’s foundation as poet and performer.
Nona Faustine reads Pamela Sneed’s Kong
Release: July 7, 2017
Artist Nona Faustine reads the first part of Pamela Sneed’s Kong, published in 2009, and read by Faustine in Brooklyn, New York, 2016. Nona Faustine is an American photographer and visual artist. Since 2014, Nona Faustine has been a media sensation. The photographs of her body taken at former slave sites of New York City undermine the dominant narrative of the city’s white-washed history.