Confinement - Andres L. Hernandez - fugitive choreographies: trickster’s escape-ism, or, RBBT resists a sticky snare, or, bramble bred and bound by the bounce
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Confinement
February 22, 2021
Confinement

fugitive choreographies: trickster’s escape-ism, or, RBBT resists a sticky snare, or, bramble bred and bound by the bounce

Andres L. Hernandez, TRR BBB, 2021.

This text takes form through a spatial and (ever)special dialect.1 Liminal spaces between letterforms and words are (re)inhabited to extend and (dis-)tend meaning. (Il)legibility is embraced as both strategy and tactic of navigational precarity; there is everything and (no-)thing to read, between the lines (n)or beyond. There may be as many ways to (mis-)read the following text as there are hairs (hares? heirs?) on the head of RBBT or (semi-)buried branches of the BR’RR PTCH, or escape routes from spaces of confinement, our (one and) only (non-)subject.2

The TRR BBB

THEY/THEM say that the map is not the territory, and a drawing is not the drawn.3 But THEY/THEM don’t truly live by these (un-)truisms. An image (of their imagining) of the BR’RR PTCH then is not the BR’RR PTCH; it is merely a type of TRR BBB, an ocular trap.4 Territorial comprehension of the BR’RR PTCH is doubly foiled through the density of its foliage and the depth of its fallacies. We can’t (possibly) know what we can’t (quite) see; and we can’t (re)imagine what can’t be (ever)drawn. Instead, we project: in search of a destination, we arrive at a drawing, a (hazardous) project of (hazy) projection, a TRR BBB. At best a drawing of the BR’RR PTCH is an approximation, an inference, a hunch. How can it be diagrammed, detailed, or described by those that have never traversed it—THEY/THEM/THOSE birthed outside and with/in/out it?5 At worst the drawing with/in/out the form of a TRR BBB is a (re)fabrication, a smokescreen, a (mis-)diversion. Perhaps it exists to (un)map the limits of dominant knowledges, the boundaries of the (un)knowable; in that endeavor it would be acutely (in)accurate. The danger lies in (mis-)believing its graphic fixity (n)otherwise as fact.

If (ever)deep knowledge of the BR’RR PTCH is confined by (un)drawing as a technology, then the TRR BBB can be (mis)read as a most (in)effective technology of confinement. THEY/THEM employ the TRR BBB in various forms to seize the fleeting eye, the wayward body, and the itinerant mind of RBBT and its (re)progeny. These attempts are lessons in futility, as RBBT need not (mis-)read something it knows all too well with/in/out its own hind(parts). It might lead with its front, but RBBT is propelled towards progress with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH and beyond by its back(side). Each of its leaps is a spring of (un)surety; (un)spatial agility is its most dangerous ability, and the TRR BBB is dispatched to bring RBBT back(down), down-down-down to the (above)ground. THEY/THEM design it to be (ir)resistible, even to the ever wary RBBT. The TRR BBB excels at pulling its target in closer-closer-closer through the seductiveness of its (mis-)appearance; the visual quality of its (un-)truths is its only (un)real asset. One might imagine it as an optical snare, so (un)believable its prey is captured once its eyes are locked with/in/out it. Only at the moment of retreat does one realize it is stuck with/in/out the ocular (il)logic of the TRR BBB; and once one is trapped, it is often most difficult to (visually) escape.

Fixed within the (un)fixed gaze of the TRR BBB, itself a (re)production of the (lack of)vision of THEY/THEM, the snared is left to ponder the BR’RR PTCH drawing as project(ion) in perpetuity. The trap (un)restricts movement, but motion is the way to (un)learn the territory, to maneuver through the morass. This is why the oppositional (read: fugitive) choreographies of RBBT with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH are (un-)welcomed by THEY/THEM, and their hunt ensues. The TRR BBB, in its myriad manifestations, is always and ever a clumping of tenuous images, an imagining of the precarity of imaging over (lived) experience. These also (re)present a familiar ruse, that THEY/THEM are all-knowing of all territories by proxy of the drawn project(ion). To masterfully (re)present those spaces both known and unknown, discovered and not yet (un)covered, is itself a project(ion) of prowess. To map, then, and to control what is mapped, is a power play; all maps are graphic (mis-)plays for power. THEY/THEM/THOSE that (mis-)shape narratives by means of the visual seek positions of dominance, over the land (that is not our land) and all things that have-lived/live/will-live upon it. The TRR BBB is the (re-)enactment of this power with/in/out the territory.

Andres L. Hernandez, BR’RR PTCH​, 2021.

The BR’RR PTCH

THEY/THEM say THEY/THEM know the BR’RR PTCH well, or at least what is (in)visible to THEY/THEM. To know the territory in whole is wholly unnecessary; THEY/THEM feign dominion over the BR’RR PTCH through its (mis-)visualization. We know (n)otherwise: the BR’RR PTCH is as (un)represented (and (un)representable) as it is vast, infinite, and free. Or at least we believe it to be so; (mis-)perceptions of its size and sovereignty are its natural camouflage. What’s above ground (and visible) is typically a barometer for what is below and (un)seen; healthy root systems and soil conditions tend to yield a visible bounty. However, this is much like seeing a forest only from above: one gets a sense of its scope from its canopy, yet learns little about life underneath it. This is the (un)real weakness of the TRR BBB in all of its visual (mis-)representations of the BR’RR PTCH. It produces one-dimensional (mis-)readings of a multi-dimensional phenomenon. The BR’RR PTCH is far too (un-)spatial and special to be flattened in this manner, no matter the sophistication of the tamping mechanism. Its brambled grid above belies the network of openness below it, making THEY/THEM unaware of its (liberatory) spatial potential.

THEY/THEM can’t get down, down-down-down to the (under)ground that is the BR’RR PTCH. THEY/THEM are too (up-/on-)high to get (down)under this barrier of branched life. It is literally beneath them, and we know the powerful don’t bow and bend to meet where others are/were/will be. THEY/THEM thus desire for us to see the BR’RR PTCH (n)otherwise, as untamed (untameable?) low-relief wilderness, an (un)policed territory of confined control. It is (mis-)rendered as (out)escapable; once something gets with/in/out, its freedom is (im)possibly forlorn. RBBT knows better and (far)beyond, thriving as conductor (soloist?) of the under(ground), an experiential blindspot evading detection (direction?). RBBT reckons hidden spaces need perpetual hiding, or else cease existing as such. What good is a secret hideaway if THEY/THEM (un)knows its location? While not quite hidden, or rather hidden in plain (in)sight, the BR’RR PTCH retains its protective (and projective) power precisely because it is (in)visible yet still (un)seen. Or (mis-)seen through its mise en scène, an (in)complete (mis-)translation through the TRR BBB.

The BR’RR PTCH, like all other things natural and (un)known, is no exception to the visual rule(s) of THEY/THEM, even in its own (un)exceptional opticality. The BR’RR PTCH resists (optical) rendering and renders (optical) resistance by RBBT. In seeking to “see” it, we separate ourselves from the actual site, and foreclose (in)sight of its physical form and material being(ness). The (un-)mapped BR’RR PTCH (ar-)rests spatial knowledge and navigation through the ocular, and its resulting drawing project(ion), the TRR BBB, rests comfortably within optical confinement. This impacts both the one who draws what’s (un)seen, and the one who sees what’s (ever)drawn. THEY/THEM are (un)locked together in a perversity of (mis-)perception with its TRR BBB prey. Yet the presence and movement of RBBT with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH promises the (im-)possibility of ocular escape, even from the seductive stickiness of the TRR BBB. RBBT understands THEY/THEM always build in escape hatches, back doors, loopholes, (un)wittingly even. And there are other (un)natural options for its flights of freedom and eventual (under)grounding, as the BR’RR ’PTCH provides RBBT cover with/in/out confinement. Safety is secured from the slip (in)between its (sub)terrestrial folds, far from the (ever)watchful gaze of THEY/THEM. And the bounce (far)beyond and through the top barrier of the BR’RR PTCH allows RBBT release from the TRR BBB.

Andres L. Hernandez, RBBT, 2021.

The RBBT

THEY/THEM say the RBBT is a trickster. We know it only to be a trickster to the tricked, THEY/THEM/THOSE that fall victim to their own (mis-)perception of deception. RBBT (up)ends the (old)world and its inversions, as THEY/THEM (en)force belief of:

… mastery in mapping.
… freedom in bondage.
… escape in confinement.
… comfort in constriction, and
… paradise in precarity.

What is up is rendered down, and down is reversed up, up-up-up and away, with/in/out the air and off the (level)ground.6 RBBT reminds us to imagine (re)imagining this all, properly.7 RBBT is our (mis-)guide, as it (mis-)resists the mess(age) of the TRR BBB and gets us back with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH, our (un)proper haven for (re)imagination. We might even imagine RBBT (re)imagining the BR’RR PTCH as a respite, (ar)resting place to which it “can come, and for a while, ‘be free to think about what we are going to do.’” 8 Yet RBBT resists stillness, ever-moving its mind and body as it evades THEY/THEM (un-)spatial logic through the slip and the bounce. One CAN plot on the run, and distress is thwarted through displacement. So RBBT (re)appears neither (over)here nor (not) there with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH, reminding us that THEY/THEM can’t snare what THEY/THEM can’t (un-)see. RBBT remains then the sole steward of this site of sovereignty, and seeks (in-)sight from (far)below(ground) as its (un-)spatial liberation strategy.

THEY/THEM say that RBBT has (super)powers, which is how it always (ever)makes its escape. We know these to be mostly its (un-)natural abilities and skills honed with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH. But THEY/THEM have to (mis-)believe these to be (extra)ordinary, and proclaim RBBT as not of this (old)world. How else could it elude capture time and time again? (Re)imagining a (super)RBBT is a feat of poetic guile; its legend grows legs as long as a BR’RR PTCH bounce. RBBT thrives with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH due to special (un-)spatial knowledge (dis-)connected to its body and not its eyes(only). Confinement hones ways to wiggle with/out/in. And if the slip won’t work, the bounce will surely help break(free) from bondage. RBBT masters these moves, for movement is its ultimate freedom, and navigational mastery of the BR’RR PTCH ensures this. If the world (dis-)covered its (un)natural abilities to (mis-)navigate and passage freely with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH, THEY/THEM would feel (and be) far less powerful. And THEY/THEM can’t continue domination by visual (mis-)definition of the territory if all can escape the optical snare of the TRR BBB like RBBT. The fugitive choreographies of RBBT with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH reveal the fiction of the (mis-)drawn project(ion).

And so it is ignorance of intuitive finding(a/way) through the mangled morass that fuels THEY/THEM power. RBBT knows this, and its awareness makes it a threat to the (un-)natural (world)order of things. THEY/THEM seek to stop RBBT at all costs, yet it remains an elusive fugitive, on the (re-)run, or should we say, on the bounce. RBBT is bound to the bounce, as much as THEY/THEM are bound to the visual. RBBT knows that to resist this oppression of the optical, it/we must employ our other (non)senses. To understand the BR’RR PTCH is to embrace the hop, the haptic, the (not)visual, the bodily-tactile-kinesthetic, the bounce. We have to get up, up-up-up high to get down, down-down-down to the (under)ground. We can’t (possibly) know what we can’t (quite) touch; and we can’t (re)imagine what can’t be (ever)moved. This knowledge comes with breeding with/in/out the BR’RR PTCH; it is the special (un-)spatial pedigree of RBBT. When one is bred with/in/out the bramble, a simple logic (in)secures sovereignty:

Free our eyes and our hindparts (might) follow;
Let our limbs lead on once the primacy of (mis-)sight is gone...

×

Confinement is a collaborative exhibition curated by gta exhibitions and e-flux Architecture, supported by the Adrian Weiss Stiftung and the ETH Zürich Foundation.

Andres L. Hernandez is an artist, designer and associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, co-founder of the Revival Arts Collective, director of the Urban Vacancy Research Institute, and member of Wide Awakes Chicago.

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Notes - fugitive choreographies: trickster’s escape-ism, or, RBBT resists a sticky snare, or, bramble bred and bound by the bounce
1

This text takes inspiration from the fictional Uncle Remus folktales written and published by author Joel Chandler Harris during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. In particular, it appropriates and reinterprets Harris’s Br’er Rabbit character and the plot and setting of his stories, “The Wonderful Tar Baby Story” and “How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox,” presented in Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings, originally published in 1880. An additional reference is Disney’s theatrical adaptation of the Uncle Remus tales in the 1946 feature film Song of the South, which blended live action with traditional animation. Both the original stories and their subsequent adaptations are notable, as they portrayed and reinforced many stereotypes of African-Americans and their lived experiences under chattel slavery. Harris’s Uncle Remus stories are marked by their limited approximations of African-American speech into written form through the sole use of dialect, in which language is both misspelled but properly sounded, as well as misspelled and pronounced differently.

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2

RBBT, pronounced “rabbit”: the protagonist of this tale by the tail. BR’RR PTCH, pronounced “briar patch”: the mise en scène of this mess(age).

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3

“A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (New York: Institute of General Semantics, 1933), 58.

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4

TRR BBB, pronounced “tar baby”: the snare of sight through the rendered site.

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5

THEY/THEM (and sometimes THEY/THEM/THOSE) does not reference gender neutral pronouns (although gender neutrality is equally applicable here). Instead, THEY/THEM/THOSE is colloquial shorthand for “The Mxn,” or “the powers that be,” or “downpressor mxn,” or “the oppressor.”

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6

See Douglas Kearney, “YESSUHRREALISM,” in Mess and Mess and (Blacksburg: Noemi Press, 2015), 36–39.

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7

In a 1998 interview about her book Paradise, Toni Morrison comments, “We are the only ones who can imagine paradise, so let’s start imagining it properly, so that it isn’t about my way, my land, my borders, my values, and keeping out you and you and you. We’re the only ones who can do that. So—think it up.” Quoted in David Streifield, “The Novelist’s Prism,” Washington Post, January 6, 1998.

Go to Text
8

As conceptual artist Robert Barry imagined and articulated in his Marcuse Series of the early 1970s: “Some Places to Which We Can Come, and for a While, Be Free to Think About What We Are Going to Do.” Barry’s Marcuse Series is in itself an imagining, and/or an appropriation of an imagining, as described by philosopher Herbert Marcuse in his 1969 book, An Essay on Liberation: “And there is an answer to the question which troubles the minds of so many men of good will: what are the people in a free society going to do? The answer which, I believe, strikes at the heart of the matter was given by a young black girl. She said: for the first time in our life, we shall be free to think about what we are going to do.” Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), 91.

Go to Text

This text takes inspiration from the fictional Uncle Remus folktales written and published by author Joel Chandler Harris during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. In particular, it appropriates and reinterprets Harris’s Br’er Rabbit character and the plot and setting of his stories, “The Wonderful Tar Baby Story” and “How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox,” presented in Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings, originally published in 1880. An additional reference is Disney’s theatrical adaptation of the Uncle Remus tales in the 1946 feature film Song of the South, which blended live action with traditional animation. Both the original stories and their subsequent adaptations are notable, as they portrayed and reinforced many stereotypes of African-Americans and their lived experiences under chattel slavery. Harris’s Uncle Remus stories are marked by their limited approximations of African-American speech into written form through the sole use of dialect, in which language is both misspelled but properly sounded, as well as misspelled and pronounced differently.

RBBT, pronounced “rabbit”: the protagonist of this tale by the tail. BR’RR PTCH, pronounced “briar patch”: the mise en scène of this mess(age).

“A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (New York: Institute of General Semantics, 1933), 58.

TRR BBB, pronounced “tar baby”: the snare of sight through the rendered site.

THEY/THEM (and sometimes THEY/THEM/THOSE) does not reference gender neutral pronouns (although gender neutrality is equally applicable here). Instead, THEY/THEM/THOSE is colloquial shorthand for “The Mxn,” or “the powers that be,” or “downpressor mxn,” or “the oppressor.”

See Douglas Kearney, “YESSUHRREALISM,” in Mess and Mess and (Blacksburg: Noemi Press, 2015), 36–39.

In a 1998 interview about her book Paradise, Toni Morrison comments, “We are the only ones who can imagine paradise, so let’s start imagining it properly, so that it isn’t about my way, my land, my borders, my values, and keeping out you and you and you. We’re the only ones who can do that. So—think it up.” Quoted in David Streifield, “The Novelist’s Prism,” Washington Post, January 6, 1998.

As conceptual artist Robert Barry imagined and articulated in his Marcuse Series of the early 1970s: “Some Places to Which We Can Come, and for a While, Be Free to Think About What We Are Going to Do.” Barry’s Marcuse Series is in itself an imagining, and/or an appropriation of an imagining, as described by philosopher Herbert Marcuse in his 1969 book, An Essay on Liberation: “And there is an answer to the question which troubles the minds of so many men of good will: what are the people in a free society going to do? The answer which, I believe, strikes at the heart of the matter was given by a young black girl. She said: for the first time in our life, we shall be free to think about what we are going to do.” Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), 91.

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