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Memory–Material. Image credit: June Canedo de Souza

Memory–Material. Image credit: June Canedo de Souza.


Performance Lecture

Memory–Material is an experimental archive of migration stories. In its subjective approach, the weeklong program calls on multiple artists, together with their collaborators and communities, to adorn the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA with biographical material that will interpret individual, collective, global, and local experiences of migration.

While personal narratives of migration ground the program, Memory–Material also points to broader and intersecting themes of migration explored by the individual collaborators including border, land, labor, and policy. Through films, performances, conversations, installations, and workshops the program will utilize biographical stories and scenes to inform the many ways in which homemaking is made possible within this context. As the program develops and expands organically throughout the week, the artists will collectively construct an interior home space for reflection, contemplation, and celebration.

Organized with June Canedo de Souza with contributions from CIELO, Adam Piron, Zena Zendejas, Tsige Tafesse, Fox Maxy, Sonia Guiñansaca, Darol Olu Kae, Natalia Pereira, Yatta Zoker, and Sheila Govindarajan.

This program is presented as part of an ongoing series of environmental programming made possible by the Manitou Fund.

June Canedo de Souza, My Longings Were Also Not Limited To
Darol Olu Kae, Infinite Rehearsal
Natalia Pereira, The Altar
Adam Piron, Sha'var
Fox Maxy, F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now

3pm: READING: Tsige Tafesse, Love Letter Library
5pm: SCREENING & TALK: Adam Piron & Fox Maxy

11am: WORKSHOP: zena zendejas, threading memories
3pm: READING: Tsige Tafesse, Love Letter Library

2pm: WORKSHOP: CIELO, Alebrije Workshop
2pm-6pm: Poncho’s tlayudas
3pm: READING: Tsige Tafesse, Love Letter Library
5pm: PERFORMANCE: Yatta Zoker, the space between my heart and mind is where I’ve always lived
6:30pm: PERFORMANCE: Live rehearsal by the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra

2pm: READING: Tsige Tafesse, Love Letter Library
4pm: PANEL: Sonia Guiñansaca, Nostalgia & Home (With Alexa Vasquez, Alan Pelaez Lopez, Francisco Aviles Pino, and Fei Hernandez)
5:30pm: PERFORMANCE: Sheila Govindarajan, Kaleidoscope

Spacial Design by Megan Kiantos.

June Canedo de Souza makes photographs, sculptures, paintings, films, and uses her body to perform when necessary. She is intrigued by materials that give intimate value to inhabited spaces, specifically textiles, biographical objects, and objects that have been imagined feminine. Having moved nearly every year since her birth, June’s practice is conceptualized around memories of former dwelling-places and of place experience. She is fond of flowers, seeds, rivers, and the red dirt from Minas Gerais where she and her family migrated from. Her favorite scent is of plywood because it reminds her of her father’s construction clothes. Most recently she has been incorporating glass and clay into her practice, two natural materials that are generally associated with home structures. Having witnessed her mother clean other people's homes for most of her life, her practice also concerns domestic labour specifically as it pertains to undocumented workers. She is interested in asking questions about the ways in which migration affects the mental health of people who migrate, the interrelations between objects, space, and time, and the ways in which objects themselves migrate.

Adam Piron (Kiowa/Mohawk) is a filmmaker and curator based in Southern California. His film work focuses on collaborative reflections of Indigenous communities navigating time, image, and control as meditations on the generative possibilities of Indigenous perspective. Piron's work has played in MoMA Doc Fortnight, True/False Film Festival, the New Yorker's Documentary series, and ESPN's 30 for 30 series. He is also a co-founder of COUSIN, a collective supporting Indigenous artists expanding the form of film. Piron currently serves as Director of Sundance Institute's Indigenous Program and was formerly the Film Curator for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Darol Olu Kae is an artist and filmmaker from and based in Los Angeles. Kae’s artistic practice disrupts conventional narrative structures of storytelling through its dynamic treatment of sound and image. His collaborative, research-based approach to art and filmmaking grounds itself in the precarious, yet generative power of the black experience in America. He was awarded the Pardino d’oro for Best International Short Film in 2020 at the Locarno Film Festival for his film i ran from it and was still in it. And in 2021, i ran from it… earned Special Jury Recognition for Poetry at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival. Kae is currently in pre-production for his next short-form project, Keeping Time, and developing his debut narrative feature, Without a Song.

Fox Maxy (Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Payómkawichum) is a filmmaker and artist in San Diego, California. Her company, Civic Films, makes documentaries, horror films, artist profiles and music videos. Her work has screened at MoMA's Doc Fortnight, BAM CinemaFest, LACMA, Rotterdam (IFFR), AFI Docs, ImagineNative Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival and Camden (CIFF) among others. In 2022, Fox was named as Sundance Institute's Merata Mita Fellow, in honor of Merata Mita (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāti Pikiao), one of the first Maori women to write and direct a feature film. Fox is currently working on her first feature film, Watertight.

Zena Zendejas (they/them) is a craftsman and storyteller from Huntington Park, CA, residing in Bushwick, NY. Their path has been one rooted in care, from environmental justice advocacy to decolonial art education, and now as a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Oral tradition holds a significant role in their craft and professional practices, from narrating a story through embroidery, to facilitating community-building experiences at the Brooklyn Museum.

Natalia Pereira, originally from the small, rural town of Vianopolis in the Minas Gerais Region of Brazil, is an acclaimed, multifaceted artist, author, and chef. Pereira’s works are an unmistakable physical expression of emotion, passion and a fundamentally unique perspective, with all roads leading back to, and telling stories of, the beauty in every medium that exists in this world – particularly those that lay long forgotten by others. Pereira’s childhood, and the unimaginable tapestry of stories that it contains, is the driving force behind her creations, many of which are forged from elements of nature – yucca repurposed as both a binding glue and a drawing tool, dried flowers and seeds as integral parts of sculptures, and colors extracted from beets, turmeric, collard greens, pomegranates and berries. In 2021, Pereira held a solo exhibition in Los Angeles as well as at “Santabago” in Santarcangelo Di Romagna, Italy. In the exhibition, entitled Papelaria, Pereira drew guests from throughout California and Europe and transported audiences to the deep world of her childhood memories. Pereira’s book – park recipe book, part art book, part autobiography – entitled Abundancia: My Life in Recipes was published in 2021, and includes her recipes, stories, poetry, photography, and sculptural work. Known for the past 15 years as the head chef of her restaurant WOODSPOON, in downtown Los Angeles, Pereira has garnered international recognition, with accolades including a “Bib Gourmand” from the Michelin Guide, multiple honors on the L.A. times “101 Best Restaurants” list, and, as of this writing, Pereira is a semi-finalist for the 2022 James Beard Foundation Award “Best Chef in California.” Perreira lives and works in Los Angeles.

Sonia Guiñansaca (Kichwa-Kañari) is a poet, culture strategist, and artist advocate. Born in Ecuador and at the age of five migrated to the United States to reunite with their parents in NY. Guiñansaca helped build some of the largest undocumented organizations in the U.S and co-founded some of the first artistic projects for and by undocumented writers. Guiñansaca has been featured on PEN American, Interview Magazine, Teen Vogue, NBC, and PBS. Their honors include those from Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, British Council, and Creative Time. They self-published their debut chapbook, Nostalgia and Borders (2016). They are the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings (HarperCollins, June 2022).

Megan Kiantos is a set designer and artist based in New York City, who works predominantly through the mediums of photography and motion.

Odilia Romero is the co-founder/ executive director of Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO); she is also an independent interpreter of Zapotec, Spanish, and English for indigenous communities in Los Angeles and throughout California. She has two decades of experience organizing indigenous migrant communities. Her organizing knowledge and experience are highly regarded, with multiple academic publications, awards, and lectures in universities across the United States. Ms. Romero has published on the challenges of organizing in indigenous communities, developing women’s leadership, and preparing a new generation of youth. Her work has also been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Vogue, Democracy Now, and Day Emmy award-winning series Pan Y Circo "Nadie es ilegal migrantes de ida y Vuelta" with Diego Luna.

Sheila Govindarajan is a multi-disciplinary artist and is a practicing Ayurvedic healer of over 10 years. Her music reflects the multiplicity of the worlds she is part of. Growing up in a South Indian family, her expressions are informed by the ancestral wisdom of the herbs and a holistic healing practice. Reflective of her dynamic urban upbringing, she sings in multiple languages. She is born and lives in LA.

Tsige Tafesse is living an artful life, staying curious, deepening her research & prayer as to be more connected to the histofuture - hopeful & hacking. Tsige plays with archives, people, video, and performance. She is a graduate of the directing program at The New School for Drama in NYC. She’s collaborated with & has been a guest speaker with the following institutions New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, TED, Seattle Art Museum, Queens Museum, Allied Media Conference, MoMA, The Studio Museum of Harlem, Vera List Center, Princeton University, Creative Time, NYU, The Africa Center, MoMA PS1, Rubin Museum, and others. She’s currently a fellow with the inaugural Ford Foundation Art & Technology 2021-22 cohort and formerly a resident of Eyebeam Art&Tech, Brooklyn Community Foundation. She hopes you are doing well and encourages you to rest, pray, and be gentle with yourself in this time of transition & turning.

Yatta Zoker (YATTA) is an artist, musician, writer, and educator from Houston, Texas. Over the years, they have shared the stage with musicians like Cardi B and The Sun Ra Arkestra, creating multimedia performances that tour astrally, nationally, and globally. Yatta has performed at MoMA PS1, MoMA, The Getty, NTS x The Tate virtual festival, and The Shed. Their work has been highlighted in magazines like The Quietus, Nylon, and The Wire. As an educator, Yatta has facilitated workshops and panels at The Brooklyn Museum, Vassar College, and Cornell University. They are a 2022 MFA Candidate at Bard College and teaching artist living in Altadena, CA.

MOCA’s environmental programming series highlights the museum’s work around climate, conservation, and environmental justice. Guided by the work of the MOCA Environmental Council, the first council of its kind at a major arts organization in the United States, this series presents artists, activists, and scholars committed to critical ecological issues in Los Angeles and globally.

The 2022 series is made possible by Nora McNeely Hurley and Manitou Fund.

Wonmi’s WAREHOUSE Programs is organized by Alex Sloane, Associate Curator of Performance and Programs, with Amber Dettmers, Production Manager, and Brian Dang, Programming Coordinator.

Wonmi's WAREHOUSE Programs is founded by Wonmi & Kihong Kwon and Family.

Memory–Material presented by The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), June 9, 2022, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Photos by Elon Schoenholz and Sam Lee.