In-Session 2018 Program

In-Session 2018 Program

January 10, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

Perilous Journey of María Rosa Palacios | Event Recap Photos linked here

Presented by artist Karina Skvirsky, in conversation with Charlotte Ickes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Threewalls Executive Director Dr. Jeffreen Hayes.

Guiding work: Video excerpt by Karina Aguilera Skvirsky viewed here.

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in photography, video and performance. Karina’s half-hour, performance-based film, The Perilous Journey of María Rosa Palacios, documents her travel from Ecuador’s Chota highlands to the coastal town of Guayaquil. The expedition serves as a re-creation of her great grandmother’s 1906 journey and an exploration of identity, representation, and ever-shifting boundaries of place and nationhood.

A remix of the traditional lecture or panel, InSession is a critical interdisciplinary salon that incorporates reading, conversation, and performance together. The salons are focused on a selection from a shared reading list which is compiled based on a theme. Our first InSession theme is migration. Artists, curators and community members curate the InSession, selecting the reading and the performers. After the conversation on the selection, it is activated by performance—music, song, poetry, dance or movement.


February 7, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

LatinX Disambiguations | Event Photos Linked here.

presented by Jose Luis Benavides with Nancy Sánchez, Amanda Cervantes and Daniel Haddad

Guiding Work: Mexican American Disambiguation by José Olivarez

Responding to Mexican American Disambiguation by Jose Olivarez, four Latinx artists will discuss their stories and experiences with Latinidad as an identity in constant migration. Jose Luis Benavides and Amanda Cervantes will unpack the poem Mexican American Disambiguation, by analyzing their recent exhibition Bienvenidos Tú y Yo in relation to their own practice as collaborators. This past exhibition focused on themes of migration and their mutual experiences and queer relationships to Mexico, their homelands, their ancestors and gender. For the event portion of the evening, Sánchez and Haddad will connect words and memories surrounding their lived narratives. Through storytelling they will navigate through their own interpretation of multiple Mexican-American disambiguations.  The artists will reflect and share with the audience aspects of their sociopolitical and unique cultural perspectives, one as a U.S. born Latinx person and the other as a Mexican born person.

Jose Luis Benavides sees the world primarily through his experience raised by a working-class, queer Latinx single mother in the Chicago community of Logan Square. The convergence of his own queer and intellectual identity mark conflicted point where his artistic practice is defined and undefined.

Amanda Cervantes makes work mainly consisting of archives. She is constantly looking back to the past and thinking about ways that cultural systems and ideas of gender exist and play out within her family and society.

Daniel Haddad creates as an immigrant living in the United States to interact and respond daily with diverse groups of society that make him aware of his identity and integrity.

Nancy Sánchez decided to add the accent mark onto her last name. the accent mark was taken by the us government during the 80’s when her father began legal documentation. sánchez threads together micro moments with her art.


March 7, 2018 | 6:30 p.m. | Event photos linked here.

Eclipsing: Migration, Movements and Desire

presented by Amina Ross with J’Sun Howard, Khadijah Ksyia, Jared Brown and A.J. McClenon

Guiding Work: Brother to Brother  (dir. Marlon Riggs)

A duet of performative lectures on migration, movement and desire by J’Sun Howard and Khadija Kysia, set alongside the digital soundscapes of artists A.J. McClenon and Jared Brown.

A celestial body is eclipsed when another larger body passes, floats, or drifts into this celestial body’s source of illumination, submerging the smaller body in shadow; in darkness. An eclipse can also be defined as a reduction or loss of status, reputation or power. Those lacking power are cast into darkness. The concept of the eclipse exposes common associations with night and darkness, and may reveal the way dark and night spaces provide a place to challenge dominant and oppressive systems, structures and ways of seeing.

Desire as it is learned, internalized and projected is a system of power one must navigate internally and spatially. Migration, as it is defined, is “movement from one part of something to another”, artists within ECLIPSING claim the agentive qualities of motion as dark beings, finding alternate sources of power beyond “light”, migrating into their own greatness.

Khadijah Kysia, is a licensed acupuncturist, writer and scholar with four decades worth of experience navigating the world in a black femme body. Khadijah will share with us her (counter)narrative and strategies for cultivating internal power and moving through the world whilst actively healing herself and others. Khadijah’s narrative will be set alongside the sounds of Jared Brown, the self-proclaimed “high priest of sounds for the girls at night.”

J’Sun Howard is a master of movement, navigating the politics of desire both on and off stage J’Sun’s (counter)narrative will be set alongside the work of A.J. McClenon, a multimedia sound artist who blends archival sound bites and personal narrative that, in AJ’s own word “level hierarchies of truth”.

This performative lecture will be organized and poetically framed by undisciplined creative Amina Ross. This program functions in conjunction with ECLIPSING: the politics of night, the politics of light (January 31,2018 – Feb 2018) a multi-pronged exhibition and performance festival at Links Hall organized as a part of Amina Ross’ 2017-2018 Curatorial residency at Links Hall.


April 4, 2018 | 6:30 p.m. | Event Photos Linked Here.

Migration as a layer, a food recipe as a layer, collage as a layer, a conversation as a layer

presented by Joelle Mercedes and Hiba Ali

Guiding Work: Watercolor Women, Opaque Men, by Ana Castillo; Afro-Iran: The Unknown Minority by Mahdi Ehsaei; Wanderlust Wonderland, Krista Franklin (collage on paper, 2008)

There is a dynamic casualness and exciting intimacy in sharing food, Joelle Mercedes and Hiba Ali will be hanging out and consuming media within a domestic space. Hiba and Joelle will be preparing daal and plantains, food whose migration reveals the global passages of cultural exchange and commerce, “watching” T.V. featuring Mahdi Ehsai’s Afro Iran, Krista Franklin’s collages and Ana Castillo’s Watercolor Women/Opaque Men, alongside with visual ephemera they have made and gathered. The duo, artists who are connected to the continents of Africa, Asia and the Americas, would like to expand on the idea of digesting; the breaking down of food and the processing of ideas around origins, cultural identities, complicated histories of food, people and places.

Joelle Mercedes (UN AFRODESCENDIENTE del Bronx, NYC) is a multimedia artist with a focus on collage, video, sound, performance, and molding. His work is committed to unpacking and reframing origins, through the exploration/manipulation of non-linear narrative, facades, environments, time, food, and improvisation. Joelle’s work seeks to create new metaphors that encourage yet complicate the notion of self-determination, self-authorship, and personal mythologies.

Joelle Mercedes attended The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He was a visiting artist at the California Institute of The Arts, as part of The Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series. He took part in the group exhibition New Earth: Caribbean Mythmaking shown at ACRE Projects. His work has been featured in publications such as Roar Feminist Magazine and Blueshift Journal. In November 2016, the first multimedia exhibition of twinskin with artist Amina Ross was held at Roman Susan (Chicago). Joelle currently lives and works in Chicago.

Hiba Ali is a new media artist and writer based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Her digital and sculptural installations focus on the history of objects that are produced from global circuits and their embedded codes, encompassing both the technological and sociological. She conducts workshop around open source technologies and personal and colonial histories. She has worked with diverse populations and community organizing and employs digital technology in ways that empower people. She holds two undergraduate degrees from the School of the Art Institute Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, Video, New Media and Animation and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Critical Studies. She is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at University of Texas-Austin. She has exhibited and presented her work in Chicago (IL), Toronto (ON), New York (NY), Istanbul (TR), Detroit (MI), Ann Arbor (MI), London (UK), Riga (LV) and Dubai (UAE).


May 2, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

kevrone: A Panel and Performance 

Migrating blk male intimacy aka batty boy(s) in da hood.

presented by Avery R. Young
w/ Drew Coleman | Marcus Davis | Mekeba Malik | Javon J. Smith

Guiding Work: Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016)

Using the 2016 film Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins), avery r. young curates an evening of poetry & dance that explores blk queerness, migration and intimacy.

Multidisciplinary artist and arts educator avery r. young is a Cave Canem alum & 3Arts Awardee whose work has appeared in The Golden Shovel Anthology, The BreakBeat Poets and other anthologies. He is on the executive team of The Floating Museum. Along with mentoring Rebirth Poetry Ensemble, he performs with his funk/soul band de deacon board.


June 6, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

Aztlan Goal Line

presented by El Cardenal de Aztlan

Guiding work: Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa,

AZTLAN GOAL LINE is a radio and performance art project by El Cardenal de Aztlan inspired by the text Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa.

Two flag football teen teams will fight to deliver traditional comfort food to the end zone. To do so, they must cross the border – The Aztlan Goal Line.
The youth of the audio-radio journalism program from Yollocalli Arts Reach will narrate the game for the spectators, bringing a dialogue on territory, migration, food, and identity.
El Cardenal de Aztlan will broadcast the recording of the performance on his radio show Screams of Combat on Lumpen Radio -WLPN 105.5 FM- in July 2018.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.


September 5th | 6:30PM

Tarnynon (Ty-yuh-nuh) Onumonu with collaborators Tarynn Jackson and Kayla McClain

Using Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” as a guiding text, the panelists will discuss what citizenship summons for them and their identifying communities alike. A live body painting session serves to discuss how the idea of citizenship deems one subject and/or object.


October 3rd | 6:30PM 

Makeba Kedem-DuBose with collaborators Nataka Moore, Ennis Martin III, Renee Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project 

Artificial Light: 365 Days of Sun is a multimedia performance piece inspired by the movie, What Happened Miss Simone? and the song “I Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” by American singer-songwriter Ms. Nina Simone. The performance focuses on the citizen status of being of ‘normal’ mental health and the very prevalent non-citizen group of people suffering with depressive disorders. Above image work by Makeba Kedem-DuBose.


November 7th | 6:30PM

Najee Searcy & Jenna Anast with collaborators Zo//Ra and Melissa Alamndina
In this version of In-Session, guided by poet Rumi’s book of poetry, Hush: Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi, we aim to discuss citizenship through affirming the present moment and those who are a part of it. We will feature a lovely performance from Zo//Ra, an open discussion about citizenship with Najee and Jenna, and hand-written poetry crafted by Melissa Almandina.