I joined a remote workshop today organised by Take Back The Tech, an international feminist collective highlighting tech-related violence against women, along with research and solutions. In the workshop, we were taught how to create a Twitter bot. If you are familiar with bots such as @tinycarebot, that’s the kind of bots this workshop taught us. I learned it is relatively easy to create one — you just need a Twitter account and some lines of code — and if you have never had any programming experience, there are TONS of resources available online for you to experiment with. The challenge here is to create a relatable concept for the bot and use it for a good cause — as with my concern with any other forms of technology — and this is definitely going to be my side project over the weekend.
I found this podcast called Ottoman History Podcast today, where the hosts and the guests talk about, well, Ottoman history in many contexts — history in general, poetry, visual culture, war, migration, feminism, science, and many others. I listened to three episodes today: on Arab feminism in periods of transition where they talk about Egyptian feminist writer Zeinab Fawwaz and Lebanese activist Nour Hammada; on the lyrical archive of al-Andalus and its relations to the poetry of Abd al-Wahhab and Mahmoud Darwish, speeches by Malcolm X, and the music of Ras Kass; and finally one on the love poems by an Ottoman woman, Mihrî Hatun in the time of the male-dominated sphere of early modern love poetry. The podcast is definitely one of the most well-run academic podcasts I have ever listened to, aside from other academic podcasts I have listened such as Why Aren’t You a Doctor Yet? and Digital Sociology.
I am also happy to read about Chaédria LaBouvie, who is the first black solo curator at the Guggenheim. Her first project was a show on American artist with Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Jean-Michel Basquiat, focusing on an overlooked, never to be shown to the public, artwork of his called Defacement (1983). “The piece portrayed the last moments of 25-year-old artist Michael Stewart, who was beaten and arrested by New York City police officers in 1983 for spray-painting a wall in the East Village subway station. Following the incident, Stewart was taken to the hospital where he spent 13 days in a coma and then died of cardiac arrest.” Basquiat was reportedly so devastated by the incident that he went over to (Keith) Haring’s studio to paint the piece on the wall. It was about time that the artwork is shown to the public, in light of the increased media focus on the ongoing police violence against Black people in the United States, and we have LaBouvie to thank for that.
From her Black solo curator role to Basquiat’s long-awaited entrance at a second major NYC institution, LaBouvier’s Guggenheim show only begins to tackle to the systematic oppression inherent within the fine art world. She says there are institutional obstacles that both Black artists and curators have to overcome first before competing as equals with their white counterparts. “You have these hurdles that Black artists and curators of colour have to get through, in terms of canonical and institutional issues, and then you have to get to the logistical questions that everyone in the art world has to face: ‘Can you afford to do this? Do you have the education? Do you have internships?’” she says. “And I think the art world is reflective of just America, in that it is just so sadly and embarrassingly acknowledging or realizing that Black history in all of its forms is also just History, with a capital H.”
There are also some sad news. Amazon is burning by intention and the repercussions to the already severe climate emergency are going to be even more devastating than we could have ever thought if nothing is done now. Roughly the size of 315,686 football fields are now destroyed — roughly one football field per second — and that includes the homes of more than 400 indigenous people in the areas, which the media have failed to highlight. There are ways for us to help in protecting the rainforest, but undeniably the full responsibility must fall on its government and the corporations responsible for the deforestation and industrial activities taking place within this largest rainforest of the world.
As I am within my final stretches of my thesis writing now, I could not help mentally rehearsing of my future oral defense. I know it’s probably months away, and my thesis still needs lots of editing and improvement, but I find myself doing that and imagining all the worst possible scenarios in my head, so I could learn to deal with them later. I have never thought about this whole mental rehearsing thing I, and perhaps many of us, do, like the time when you are in the queue to order food, or about to enter an interview, or perhaps when you’re about to talk to someone important, but this article found its way into my inbox today.
Athletes use this deliberate practice to rehearse the moves they want to improve. Musicians do this to master complicated works and almost any profession that has some kind of supervised apprenticeship does the same: choosing which moves to rehearse to develop better performance at that task. They learn from experts and they choose where they place their attention.
So, what are you currently rehearsing?