Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Neil Smith gave a talk tonight at VIVO. Clint Burnham tweeted the gist of what he talked about, so you can find that on twitter if you search #neilsmith. Essentially he talked about the revolutionary imperative and described the five knives that went into the corpse of neo-liberalism. He also talked about Foucault and post -structuralism with some contradictions. All of that Foucault, post-structuralism and whether there were contradictions were completely lost on me, as the chair was very uncomfortable by that point in the talk and my mind had gone off to another place related to Iceland. (which related to his neo-liberalism bent)

I had previously read some of Neil Smith’s work on class, which I found very compelling and the reading of it prompted me to instigate my own interrogations loosely related to what he posited. One such interrogation has resulted in the current Rereading the Riot Act project I am fortunate to be curating with the Helen Pitt Gallery. I am very much enjoying and inspired by the group of collaborators who’ve agreed to engage with the project. Their willingness to respond and appetite for response is uplifting. It’s one thing to ponder something alone in the recesses of your mind but it’s quite the privilege to unveil some of those considerings and questions and find people responsive to them. The responses and people’s chosen departure points blow me away. I love to learn where they go.

I talked with Neil Smith afterwards about the history of the Catholic Worker movement and the gentrification of The Bowery. He reported one restaurant supply place left there, I have photos from the early and mid 200o’s which show at least a dozen or more such storefronts. Smith also told me about an group of artists who spray stencilled text around John Thompkins Park that detailed what had taken place there historically in one succinct phrase (something like police riots happen here (have to look this up for accuracy may not be correct). We talked about the act of reinscribing history into spaces where it’s been erased or absented. Jeff Derksen bought a copy of Taxi! for Smith from me. Then a few others bought copies. I had copies because of last week’s intervention.

VIVO is located on Main Street. I always think of Helen’s novel Sometimes They Sang and the jazz club in it as taking place in that area. That is where my imagination located it.

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