Mobile Institute for Citizenship and Art, 2016 -
The Mobile Institute for Citizenship and Art (MICA), is a nomadic platform for research, dialogue and exchange, oriented toward understanding how historically marginalized communities redraw the parameters for political membership by mobilizing social/cultural resources and activating communal spaces: redefining how citizenship can (and should be) understood and enacted as process.
MICA is housed within a retrofitted fiberglass trailer, which functions as a research hub, reading space, listening station, recording studio and hyper-local FM radio station.
For its initial initiative, the Mobile Agora Project (MAP), MICA takes residence in public markets, establishing an outpost to undertake workshops, performative actions and artistic interventions in collaboration with vendors, local artists, and community organizations.
Through such participatory research strategies, MAP analyzes how such spaces facilitate forms of cultural and economic exchange amongst and between the transnational publics who frequent such markets -- largely immigrant, working-class, POC, inter-generational communities -- and asks whether these can become incubators for forms of political solidarity that transcend national boundaries and socio-cultural divides: (re)imagining and (re)constituting parameters of citizenry.
We will be publishing our analysis and reflections in the forthcoming publication, Regionalia, which will be published by California State University, Fullerton, Grand Central Art Center, in the Summer 2019.
[ MAP: LA ]
The first iteration of the project, MAP:LA, took place at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet in south Los Angeles during June 2016. This pilot version featured collaborations with Manos Unidas Creando Arte, an artisan cooperative of women designing economically + environmentally sustainable crafts with material sourced from their communities in Santa Ana, CA, with Resilience Orange County, a youth activist group organizing against the criminalization and deportation of immigrants who live, go to school and/or in Orange County, and with the Tijuana-based DIY-editorial press Kodama Cartonera.
[ Protest Balloons ]
One of MAP’s intentions is to collaborate with immigrant-rights groups to facilitate workshops and actions within the market. For MAP: LA, we worked with Orange County-based Resilience Orange County, and members of the Spurgeon Intermediate School Social Justice Club, to design + facilitate a workshop that would adapt the aesthetics of protest to the context of a Swap Meet.
The resulting action, "Protest Balloons," invited participants to articulate their political demands on mylar balloons in response to the political rally cry “What do we want?” -- as immigrants/youth of color/latinxs/chicanxs/etc. To conclude the workshop, a march was undertaken through the market flying the balloons in place of picket signs.
This workshop was also facilitated as part of MAP:TJ in collaboration with the Comité Magonista Tierra y Libertad. During both interventions participants were given the choice to take their balloons with them to carry through the market and back to their communities, or leave and donate their balloons to the project archive, which frames and preserves these for future exhibitions/presentations.