Waiting Discussion Series

What does the condition of waiting reveal about us, our world, and the natural environment that sustains it?

This series of eight sessions offered glimpses into the thought and practices of artists, architects, historians, and theorists who grapple with this question.  Participants shared their own research into an aspect of waiting while touching on some of its registers: enforced waiting, chronic waiting, natural waiting, existential waiting, and even those desirable modes of waiting that we long for. The resulting publication, Shifter 25: Waiting, will launch in fall 2021.

Shifter is an online journal that explores the intersection of contemporary art, theory, and experimental writing. They convene public dialogues and produce publications. These events, and the resulting publication, Shifter 25: Waiting, were co-hosted by MIT List Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati in conjunction with upcoming solo exhibitions by Sreshta Rit Premnath to be held in September 2021 (CAC) and October 2021 (List Center).

Shifter is programmed by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert.

Guadalupe Maravilla and Lauren Williams (September 17, 2020) 

Multi-disciplinary artist Guadalupe Maravilla spoke about his work on immigration detention, trauma, and healing through sound. Detroit-based designer, researcher, writer, and educator, Lauren Williams presented her exploration of how Black rage, born of chronic waiting, can be a transformative power.

A black, white, and red graphic reads "Shifter: Waiting Guadalupe Maravilla and Lauren Williams"

Kevin Jerome Everson and Nicole Fleetwood (October 8, 2020)

Artist, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson discussed his cinematic work exploring the temporality of incarceration. Writer, scholar, and curator Nicole Fleetwood  discussed Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration and her curatorial exploration on the US carceral system’s impact on Black lives and artwork that emerges from and reflects on it.

A black, white, and red graphic reads "Shifter Waiting Session 2: Kevin Jerome Everson and Nicole Fleetwood"

Sandrine Canac and Felipe Steinberg (October 22, 2020)

Scholar and curator Sandrine Canac offered a fictionalized conversation that takes place in postcolonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “waiting room” of history. Artist Felipe Steinberg shared his research into US labor laws and how the state of always being “on-call” is a form of unpaid waiting.

A black, white and red graphic reads "Shifter 25: Waiting 3"

Mustafa Faruki and Kameelah Janan Rasheed (November 12, 2020) 

Artist Mustafa Faruki discussed his work on the “Celebatorium,” a site of temporal suspension that forecloses futurity. Conversely, artist, writer, and educator Kameelah Janan Rasheed discussed people who seek immortality – that is those who wait forever.

Session 4 with Mustafa Faruki & Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Diego Gerard and Margarita Sánchez Urdaneta (December 3, 2020) 

Writer Diego Gerard explored strategies of absurdity and magical realism in a discussion on the ongoing tragedy of forced disappearances in Mexico in the midst of the drug war. Columbian artist Margarita Sánchez Urdaneta used the concept of horrorism to consider the terror of waiting for a legal sentence.

Shifter 25: Session 5 Diego Gerard & Margarita Sánchez Urdaneta

Matthew Metzger and Jane Norris (January 28, 2021) 

Artist Matthew Metzger spoke about soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy’s use of pausing in his solo playing, where waiting becomes rhythm and silence is bound up with critique and anticipation. Critic, writer, and Studio Viatopia founderJane Norris presented recordings of the electronic pulses of plants, questioning if they are waiting for our resonances to align or for us to hear them.

A black, white, and red graphic reads "Shifter 25: Session 6 Matthew Metzger & Jane Norris"

Taraneh Fazeli and Jonathan Van Dyke (February 18, 2021) 

NY based curator, educator Taraneh Fazeli spoke about her ongoing research into time as it is encountered and reconsidered by those with chronic illness. Artist Jonathan Van Dyke discussed a durational performance in which he stood sentinel outside his parents’ home; spending innumerable hours waiting beside his ailing father. 

Taraneh Fazeli’s image descriptions for her presentation can be found here.

A black white and red logo reads "Shifter 25: Session 7 Taraneh Fazeli and Jonathan Van Dyke"

Rebecca Comay, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (March 4, 2021) 

Professor of philosophy and comparative literature Rebecca Comay presented her research into trauma, memory and the temporality of human life.  Artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme spoke about their use of strategies to counter the perpetual disaster of the present.

A black white and red logo reads "Shifter 25: Session 8 Rebecca Comay, Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme"