Arika Episode 8: Refuse Powers' Grasp
Politically engaged festival of music, art and activism
There's little doubt that the mini-festivals organised by Edinburgh-based promoters Arika are among the most essential works being presented in Scotland; certainly not in terms of their slim popular appeal, but in the depth of thought which goes into their challenging and resolutely political lineups, a dazzling convergence of music, performance art, activism and academia. Their purpose isn't summed up simply. 'It explores the messy, unruly and ungovernable ways queer, trans and women's anti-racist, decolonial, anti-deportation and prison abolitionist struggles imagine themselves, their social entanglements with each other, the worlds they want to live in and the ways they bring those worlds about, now and in the future,' says co-organiser Barry Esson of the themes of this eighth instalment.
Among many highlights, Esson selects an in-conversation event with black, American, transgender former convicts and prison reform activists Miss Major and CeCe McDonald; a performance by New York writer, performer, artist and DJ Juliana Huxtable, which he describes as 'a resistance to the caging of people within fixed selves, private bodies or prescribed identities'; and another discussion entitled 'Against Inclusion', featuring Maria Galindo of 'fiercely incredible Bolivian anarcha-feminist street movement' Mujeres Creando, and writers and organisers Dean Spade and Eric A Stanley. There will also be a strong music element, with Huxtable hosting a club night at the Art School.
'How do communities most affected by the prison industrial complex organise themselves socially without resorting to the logic of punishment and exile?' ponders Esson further. 'How can we work to dismantle rather than reform the repressive structures of violence that cause the most harm? How can we think, organise and bring about entirely different societies? And do those societies exist already, even if only in part and under duress, in everyday practices of abolition, entanglement and care?' Few pieces of art any of us are likely to see this year will be quite as relevant.
Arika Episode 8: Refuse Powers' Grasp, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 21–Sun 23 Oct.