A murmur of the heart
Studio news, a raffle, 2024 wishes
Photo from Smile Gaza, taken near the Egyptian border.
MUTUAL AID: Smile Gaza is a humanitarian aid worker who is currently fighting for the survival of his family near the Egyptian border. Over the past 86 days, this family with 40 people including 9 children has been displaced 5 times. Several family members have been killed and many shelters targeted and destroyed. The entire extended family is currently sleeping on an open patch of sand, exposed to winter cold, rain, and military attacks without fuel, electricity, or basic privacy. Food, water, and simple flour to bake bread are all extremely overpriced and virtually inaccessible. We need your help to raise funds so Smile Gaza and his family can build a new tent and survive to resume important humanitarian aid work after the aggression. Donate via the Paypal link here.
The turning of the year finds me feeling a mix of continued grief and hope. I rang in the new year with a noise demonstration at the Metropolitan Detention Center and at midnight, people held inside flashed the lights of their cells and people outside lit fireworks and pink smoke bombs.
I keep finding myself at a loss for words, or at a loss of ability to synthesize or verbalize, and have instead been focusing on taking in as much as I can. Which is a difficult task, as each day of the genocide in Palestine brings new horrors and mounting death and sickness tolls, and as I grasp at anything I can in the history and present to suggest a way forward. Never before in my life have I reacted so viscerally to ongoing news. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve shouted aloud in response to something on my screen. Existentially, I’m terrified at the number of people who have revealed themselves to, at core, believe in and trust the nation state, and at the number of people who are so dedicated to so-called “order” that they are willing to accept the violences that enable it.
January 1st also marks the anniversary of the Cuban revolution, the Haitian revolution, and the 30 year anniversary of the Zapatista uprising. The Zapatista movement has always served as a guiding light for me, in the poetry and potency of their communiques, their dedication to building global solidarity, and the writing of Subcomandante Marcos. I listened to this podcast episode in the ceramic studio yesterday and am making my way through the series.
I’ll be honest– I spent January 1st feeling incredibly lonely. Despite my personal ambivalence/antagonism toward compulsory celebration, calendar holidays, time in general (see: Walter Benjamin’s image of Paris Commune members shooting clocks), I’ve always taken the day as one of reflection and intention-setting for the coming year. Lately I struggle with the distance between friendships and political formations; sometimes they feel one and the same and sometimes they feel irreconcilably different. I can feel held by community in a timeless way at midnight and wake up the next morning feeling isolated and unsure of how to connect, and I’m working on accepting both day by day, trying to practice devotion to something bigger than myself.
The consciousness of exploding the continuum of history is peculiar to the revolutionary classes in the moment of their action. The Great Revolution introduced a new calendar. The day on which the calendar started functioned as a historical time-lapse camera. And it is fundamentally the same day which, in the shape of holidays and memorials, always returns. The calendar does not therefore count time like clocks. They are monuments of a historical awareness, of which there has not seemed to be the slightest trace for a hundred years. Yet in the July Revolution an incident took place which did justice to this consciousness. During the evening of the first skirmishes, it turned out that the clock-towers were shot at independently and simultaneously in several places in Paris. An eyewitness who may have owed his inspiration to the rhyme wrote at that moment:
Qui le croirait! on dit,
qu'irrités contre l'heure
De nouveaux Josués
au pied de chaque tour,
Tiraient sur les cadrans
pour arrêter le jour.
[Who would've thought! As though
Angered by time’s way
The new Joshuas
Beneath each tower, they say
Fired at the dials
To stop the day.]
I got a tattoo from my friend Freeman James a few weeks ago, of text that says “UTOPIA” on the back of my neck. This area of the body is the spiritual gateway. Chinese medicine advises keeping the back of your neck warm to avoid sickness; when channeling guides you’re often meant to visualize a golden light spreading through the area. The tattoo for me is about Utopia in a Muñoz way, the otherwise, the elsewhere. It had been over a year since I last got tattooed, and it was the right time to remind myself that I also need to participate in the grounding practice from the other side of the exchange.
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My wishes for 2024 include:
ROMANCE FOR LOVERS FRIENDS AND COMRADES
SOLIDARITY ACROSS IDENTITIES AND BORDERS
MOVING FROM PRINCIPLED GROUNDEDNESS
HAVING WHAT WE NEED
MOVING FROM SHAME AND URGENCY
BELIEVING IN THE STATE TO PROTECT US OR GIVE US WHAT WE NEED
IDENTITY-BASED FORMATIONS AND POLITICS
PANDERING TO INSTITUTIONS
CERAMIC RESTOCK + RAFFLE ~~~~
A new batch of Flower World incense burners is out of kiln and up on my website, including some discounted surprise irregulars :)
I had some tragic technology troubles a few months back that left me without a laptop and having lost all my files. I’ve been borrowing an old macbook from a generous friend, but have hit the limit of what I can do without replacing my computer before I leave for a residency in March. I’m committing to buying refurbished tech going forward in light of the cobalt mining exploitation in the Congo, but it’s still an unexpected expense at a time when work is very, very slow.
I’m raffling off two ceramic works for the technology costs, with a percentage of funds raised being redirected to the mutual aid fund for a family in Gaza linked at the top of this newsletter.
Entries are $10 each and you can enter as many times as you’d like by Venmo to @tamara-santibanez or Paypal to email@example.com. I’ll draw winners for both on January 9th. Please include your email with your entry so I can get ahold of you if you win!
🌼FLOWER WORLD NEWS🌼
I’m thrilled to share that my longtime friend Virginia Elwood will be joining us as a full member of Flower World beginning this month. I can’t say enough complimentary things about Virginia and her presence as an inspiration in tattooing. Even before I started tattooing at all, I remember seeing her work and being blown away by it. Virg is a color traditional and portrait legend!
Upcoming guest artists:
Jan. 25-31 ~ Quiara Capellan, one of our original Flower World members, will be back in town from the Bay to work with us again. Quiara specializes in freehand botanicals, particularly color on melanated skin. Contact her to book @qviara.
Jan.17-20 ~ Haitham, our beloved Palestinian friend, is back in New York and taking appointments at the end of the month. Contact via Instagram DM @_sukhmat.
Jan. 21-24 ~ Lyric is working with us again! We are so thrilled to have them back. You can see their work and contact @h0jia via DM.
We also have local friends Ag @star__enemy and Aisha Adwallah @aishathegoddess making regular guest appearances at Flower World, ready to make all your tattoo dreams come true.
I also have some availability left for January. Email with your idea to set something up.
SAVE THE DATE: On January 10th, my friend and studiomate Nassim Dayoub and I will be doing a second round of our teach-in on prison abolition and letter writing for political prisoners at MayDay space. Teach-in slides from last session are here; I spoke about NYC’s jails and Sema taught on Israeli prisons.
A few last things:
Huda is Flower World’s favorite new restaurant in the neighborhood. Sema describes it as “homemade Syrian food plated really beautifully.” Everything we’ve tried is delicious, the people are warm and welcoming, and we’re so happy to have them nearby.
I’m reading After Accountability: A Critical Geneaology of a Concept by Pinko, published through Wendys Subway. The book is a collection of oral history interviews addressing the origins and evolutions of the concept from a truly incredible range of voices.
“The Right to Speak for Ourselves: For far too long, Palestinians have been denied the freedom to tell our own story” By Mohammed El-Kurd for the Nation
Sharing this archive of printable pdfs from True Leaf Press’ Prison Zine Distro catalog. If you know of anyone interested in receiving materials from the catalog, you can also connect them with True Leaf directly.
CINEMÓVIL NYC is presenting a screening series on “Exploring Modes of Resistance” this Thursday, January 4th at Stone Circle Theater in Queens.
Following The Body has been extended at Fragment Gallery through January 7th!
You can support The Garden, Bed-Stuy’s abolitionist bookstore project by purchasing their stock through their Bookshop.org page. They’ve curated an incredible selection for anyone interested in starting or deepening their abolitionist knowledge base.
Gallery view, Following the Body at Fragment
A sunset I thought about for years
by Tamara Santibañez
A pink sky like you wouldn’t believe
that day, and a purple never seen before now!
Sky haloing doors we never thought
would close, they’re open windows now, baby.
Words we never said full-chested
scrawled right there on the walls, right there
cursing and all
and they burst right open,
violaceous shout mirrored heavenly high.
Psychics say to see a force field when
you need protecting,
A lit-up God dome or
rosy faith cloud, just you
and that imagined, dreamed-up pink, well
who could think of it? Not me, blush-making
but it was around,
Are you seeing this?
My body is in the places it was then,
in the streets, under the rain, shoulder to shoulder on bridges
straining to see what color the sky is today.
Looking for faith
through hard brick,
neutral for a rosy glow, chin up.
We have been here so many times before
And it is cold. Daily, concrete hard beneath
our feet, short days and long nights.
Hydraulic breakers crack the sidewalk and I sob at the rubble
trying to think, instead, of a young tree looking up
believing a flag, a pink, a blaze is somewhere near to cover us all