THINKING and WORKING UNDER ERASURE
The idea of Thinking and Working under Erasure is derived from the notion of “thinking under erasure” which is taken from Stuart Hall (recaptured by David Scott), who borrowed the concept from Jacques Derrida. For our purposes, the idea of Thinking and Working under Erasure captures the fact that in the realm of intellectual thought there are rarely absolutely new models about which no one has ever thought. More, there is the idea that not only do we think within historical patterns and traditions but also that historical patterns and traditions “think us.” Therefore, VCCI | FLIC is grounded by the imperative that to Think and Work Under Erasure is about thinking and working from within a kind of fugitive space–a space that, Fred Moten tells us, occasions a desire for and a spirit to escape and transgress the proper and the proposed. It’s a desire for the outside, for a playing, thinking, or being outside, traversing an outlaw edge that is proper and adequate to an always already improper voice, expression, perspective, or way of being.
As VCCI | FLIC generates and produces educational programs, there remains at the core, the idea of productive transgression. Productive transgression, then, is about cultivating and enacting a sense of (creative) freedom and social agency. The purpose of doing so speaks directly to the idea of fugitivity. This means critically examining traditional forms of artistic value, examining constraining understandings of artistic and creativity activity, and rigorously taking to task oppressive narratives that propose to dictate how we understand, interpret, and exist in relationship to traditional forms of knowledge–artistic and otherwise. In cultivating creative freedom and social agency, productive transgression seeks empowerment, engagement, and excellence. Finally, to talk about productive transgression is to come to terms with erasure, with fugitivity, and move out into the world from that understanding into an active refusal of objectification–whether artistic, symbolic, cultural, or otherwise. In this way productive transgression is transformative.
VCCI | FLIC is grounded and situated by a fundamental critique of culture. This is not to suggest an arbitrary and willy-nilly contention with all things for the sake of being contentious. No. This is, however, to suggest an intentionally aggressive polemic with “culture” as a site that produces and reproduces forms of control, power, and violence that, more often than not, results in silencing voices. Remaining consciously aware of the rise of gendered, racialized, and epistemic violence, VCCI | FLIC takes up and seriously engages what Paget Henry calls the “poetic power of artistic practice” to “un-name and re-name, to de-institute old selves and establish new ones, and to silence imposed voices and reclaim lost ones” in the collective and collaborative efforts to not only avoid what Paget Henry calls the “crisis of entrapment” but also to avoid what Lewis Gordon refers to as a kind of “disciplinary decadence.” Cultural critique, then, does the work of unearthing and eradicating implicit forms of violence and aesthetic domination which, therefore, positions VCCI | FLIC to 1) engage archaic, traditional, and cultural rigidity, 2) to empower its publics to speak with liberated voices, and 3) to shift the boundaries of language and artistic practice that embrace thinking and working under erasure as a way to promote productive transgression and fugitivity, engage in cultural critique for the purposes of resisting imposed identities, and embody, embrace, and foster a diversity of knowledges and practices.