I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies: Curatorial Statement

Tao Leigh Goffe & Tatiana Esh

Exploring themes of race and shared ecologies across the Americas, the born-digital photography exhibition I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies presents a hemispheric vision of African diasporic and Native life in the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America. The exhibition features experimental virtual reality (VR) and filmic components. In this curatorial essay, themes of the entangled dispossession of Native sovereignty and African enslavement are explored in the works of seven photographers from Trinidad to Wisconsin to Peru to Dominica. Artists Abigail Hadeed, Nadia Huggins, Kai Minosh Pyle, Allison Arteaga, steve núñez, Melia Delsol, and Dóra Papp provide a visual critique of the long history of racial capitalism, climate crisis, and Black and Indigenous presence. Together the photographic essays form a constellation, a vision of what environmental and racial justice can look like for the hemisphere after the catastrophe of European conquest. Speculatively picturing Black and Indigenous coalitions in the past, present, and future, the artists use the technology of the camera to frame nature, exploring visual aesthetic forms that seek not to replicate the capture of the colonial archive.

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TAO LEIGH GOFFE is a curator, writer, and artist whose work specializes in sound design and virtual environments. Her practice explores the narratives that emerge from histories of race, colonialism, and technology. Born in the U.K. and based in New York City, her work negotiates the haunted legacies of Atlantic crossings. She is an assistant professor of literary theory and cultural history at Cornell University where she teaches literatures and theories of labor that center Black feminist engagements with Indigeneity and Asian diasporic racial formations. Committed to building intellectual communities beyond institutions, she is the founder of the Dark Laboratory, an engine for the study of race, technology, and ecology through digital storytelling (virtual reality (VR) extended reality (XR)). She studied literature and visual culture at Princeton University and Yale University.

TATIANA ESH is a storyteller who centers her practice around writing, visual art, and filmmaking. Collaboration and community are deeply important to her practice, belongs both to an artist collective called Queerstar and a broader unnamed community of friends who support each other artistically. Blackness and its inherent artistry, mystery, and power is a core value of her artistry as she decolonizes her own gaze and reflects on the ancestral past. In her role as lab manager of the Dark Laboratory, she coordinates and curates data collection and digital storytelling projects.  She studied Africana studies and film at Cornell University.

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