Political Engagement to me has drastically shifted not in its definition but in my understanding of my place within it. It is still a belief that one’s voice carries worth but I think it is the examination of what systems validation is being asserted onto. With that, I have been viewing political engagement lately from a look at whether actions are serving to reform a system or abolish it. While it may seem odd to compare somebody watching the news as a form of political engagement to somebody on the streets fighting for rights, both of these actions have the potential to uphold similar systems in the long run. From the reformist perspective, I would think of actions that function within a system to change a system. This can be on the part of any party but essentially asserts that the framework available is the one needed to work within. The abolitionist framework is a type of political engagement that I would classify as a queer politic; it imagines what replacements for current systems could be and then brings them to life. Essentially, this framework realizes the void in a system and creates something in its place.
Documenting creates small containers of imagination. It captures not what happened in the past, but an imagined reflection of it, and lets that imagination transcend timelines to influence the way we look at history, the way we act in the present, and the way we imagine and create our futures. Documentation is not only an acknowledgement of a process that happened to put something into existence but it is also all of the free associations along that process that sprout into examining that can either be looked at alone or in relationship to everything else. Documentation offers an opportunity for an infinite number of possibilities to be explored within the context of a single project. It is allowed to be messy.
I see a curator’s role as both to look for themes and patterns, and to connect the dots between them to find larger messages that can transcend society, but also to have a careful process in place of personal principles and forms of community and personal positionality assessments to go through. There is a very westernized form of research that serves to take actually complex images and group them together to put people into hierarchies. Curatorial practice needs to be done in a way that it works against this practice through a careful look at intent within practice, as well as who is represented within the collections. Ultimate care needs to be given to the life that is being represented by the work, whether that is human/plant/animal life, or the viewing of the seemingly inanimate as living, breathing, landscapes and organisms.