F & T Questionnaire:
From Fink and Theel headquarters in the western hemisphere, we are currently eight days beyond the Summer solstice, the moon is waxing gibbous, and we are so pleased to feature our next artist, Emmy Catedral. Her work is like a hound, sniffing out with poetic acuity the narrative history embedded in the objects, places, and concepts that surround us. These morsels of information and intrigue are then used as nodes to create what Catedral refers to as 'asterisms,' conceptual constellations that allow our minds to journey among the interrelated but distant spaces. She is a kind of cosmic archaeologist, in that her work seeks to unearth the connective threads of experience that defy limited notions of time or place. As the Amateur Astronomers Society of Voorhees, Catedral creates guided walks and salons that conflate the mundane with the infinite, the minuscule with the vast, the earthly with that of Outer Space. Read below to follow her from the vital streets of New York City, to an elbow touch containing generations, to the magnetic North uniting us all.
image by Hilary Fagadau
Describe a place in the world where you have felt most alive:
In movement from any place to another even spelunking any sidewalk, in New York City. I like Momus' term "disorienteering," getting lost a little. I like when I recognize that both place (including the other people in it), and I are verbs even if the effects on the other are barely perceptible. I guess it's a reminder to move with some sort of responsibility. Then there is something like a quiet place of a loud history, where maybe the biggest event belonging to it couldn't possibly be surpassed. Being aware of that, protecting its reverb, you know, that makes me feel like an alive human that gets to have capabilities of retention and storytelling and not a microbe (with due respect to the oldest form of life on earth).
Share an image that you return to often:
A photo of my two grandfathers Damaso and Tito seated next to each other as teenagers. Before either of them knew they would respectively marry my two grandmothers. When the possibility of children in their adulthood was a mere idea, the children who would then meet each other and make me. Their arms are touching at that teeny tiny moment in their youth, marking for me such a bigness and time. Maybe often is not quite right for this occasion. It's just there always.
What is the last thing you read that mattered to you? What will you read next?
When I can acquire two or three books to decide to hang out with at the same time sensing there will be threads and then locating them, that feels like everything. Mattering. That's how it felt reading sections of Other Planes of There (Duke Univerisity Press, 2014) by Renee Green with sections of To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader (Nightboat, 2014) especially The Arab Apocalypse. Next book without having read it but knowing it will matter to me is Katherine McKittrick's Dear Science. It argues for emancipatory possibilities of interdisciplinarity. Maybe echoing for me Nato Thompson: "acts of aesthetic affirmation must coincide with acts of aesthetic refusal."
Describe an object that intrigues you:
A compass. The "true magnetic North" only Earthlings share, meaning nothing outside the planet. I took this picture in 2013 when Gen Ken Montgomery did a brief pop up return of his Generator store (a sound art gallery from the 80s-early 90s) at Audio Visual Arts. So many great ephemera but I snapped this of a compass attached to a dictionary. Maybe there was a record in it. In any case, it's perfect. Orienteering with English. And beyond that, Rosemarie Waldrop wrote: "But the four points of the compass are equal on the lawn of the excluded middle where full maturity of meaning takes time the way you eat a fish, morsel by morsel, off the bone."
What must change?
Unfenestrated completist ideology, brick-like belief. The good thing is that change exists and those things get troubled, get poked, and opened up, all the time.
How can we heal?
The word heal...I don't know the answer. I wonder: what's a figurative wound? I can't help but think of reading Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera for the first time. She often referred to borders as open wounds specifically the US-Mexico border as "un herida abierta." A border, physical or imaginary, that more than prevents, grates, and wouldn't allow me the privilege of knowing my answer to the first question.
"The content of what can’t be said in the scar of singing something."
- Fred Moten from The Little Edges (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2014)
If you could instantly have any skill or ability what would it be?
Debt eradication super powers.
What makes you laugh until you cry?
My little sister who doesn't have to say a word. I can't take the subway with her. It's too much to be confined near her face in public transport.
As a member of the global community, what is your greatest concern?
As a willy-nilly member: Myopic institutional shortcut solutions leading to humans getting shorted. You know, throwing a person in jail one at a time, let's get rid of this noise right now, done. Zoom out and of course we see incomprehensible quantities of humans shorted, without addressing the larger deafening alarms. All over the globe. The singling out of people(s), that's I suppose an opposite of believing in a possibility of shared, common attitudes (which could be a definition of community). The singling out when it's born of hate, which continues to be taught. That's for me the greatest concern.
Describe a non-human being you’ve interacted with.
My duende who never visits when I make things, but comes with me, invites me to spelunk.
What is your mantra?
I have a handful. One comes from Aime Cesaire's words by way of a Claudia Rankine epigraph: "And most of all beware, even in thought, of assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of grief is not a proscenium, a man who wails is not a dancing bear..."
The mantra, the words repeated: "not a dancing bear."
What can art do?
asterisms all day.