Reckoning with the question of what to do with the ways we’re being undone, Chapter 5: Melancholy as Medium brings us together for an activist wake that refuses to move on. The evening unfolds a ritual of mediumship to conduce our outraged grief as catalytic for the uprising and care work of living with more than one virus, amidst more than one pandemic, carrying our as yet unaddressed losses into the battles we’re still waging in the name of supports for the thriving of Black, Brown, Indigenous, crip, queer and trans vitalities.
Professor Jill Casid debuted a specially commissioned film, Untitled (Melancholy as Medium) on Wednesday, June 9th. Casid conceived the fifth chapter Melancholy as Medium of the exhibition Indisposable: Structures of Support after the ADA curated by UW Art History Ph.D. candidate Jessica A. Cooley and Ann M. Fox for the Ford Foundation Gallery.
The evening’s session begins with Transmission V (2021) by fierce pussy. Holding space to ask such questions as ‘what does a collective grief doula do?’, members of the What Would an HIV Doula Do? collective Pato Hebert and Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad read the introduction of their co-edited zine, What Does an Uprising Doula Do?. They debuted Untitled (Melancholy as Medium) made especially for Indisposable that conjures with the material fragility of analogue photography to commune with the incalculable but still powerful presence of unredressed loss. Intervening in the telling of HIV/AIDS as history and honoring the transformative powers of Black lesbian litany and elegy, Pamela Sneed performs selections from her Lambda award-winning poetry collection Funeral Diva (2020) to remind us of the forms that resistance shouldn’t have to take— like survival. Master of ceremonies for the evening Heather Lynn Johnson will read from her own work (the searing poem Mississippi Appendectomy) and gather session participants for a culminating convocation.