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Experiments in Freedom

NICO WHEADON is the executive director of NXTHVN, a multidisciplinary arts incubator in New Haven, Connecticut. She is also an adjunct assistant professor of Art History and Africana Studies at Barnard College, and Professional Practices at Hartford Art School within the interdisciplinary MFA program.

Reflections on Free

It does not come so easily. Freedom is physical, political, and spiritual. This much is plain.

Living Without Gravity

Freedom is the ability to live one’s life fully, knowing that you’re doing it in a way that allows others to do the same. Self-actualization that is not selfish. The principle moves out from the personal to the geopolitical, and vice versa—our safety, security, happiness, fulfillment, is only meaningful if it doesn’t impinge on the complex web of relationships, visible and invisible, close and impossibly abstract, in which we exist.

On Being a Pest

I’ve spent a lot of time online trying to find out whether Stephen Miller, architect of this administration’s most inhumane immigration policies, has a dog. He’s likely behind the dehumanizing language Trump has used to describe undocumented immigrants—as animals—but to use “animal” as an insult reveals a lot about our species’ relationship to other living things—we maim, shoot, skin, and rape animals for our pleasure. I don’t know, I just kind of wanted to know if Stephen Miller had a dog.

desert creature

korde arrington tuttle (@knotahaiku) is playwright, poet + multidisciplinary maker, hailing from charlotte, nc. his five younger sisters + brothers are the coolest thing about him.

Where Does My Heart Reside?

I am fascinated by the lives of different generations South Africans: what are their hopes? how are they thinking about freedom? in the afterlife of apartheid, how have different people’s lives changed? what kinds of lives are they trying to live now that they are “free”?

An Archive of Proximity

I’d walk the paths I’ve made through Harlem without actually thinking about the act of walking. In the morning I’d bustle down Frederick Douglass or Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard toward the express train immersed in private sensory exchanges with the buildings, streets, and neighbors I felt were an extension of home. It was all a matter of proximity to the familiar, and what you allowed to become familiar, and then what became routine when exchanges settled.

A Literary Collective of Care

During the time when students were required to make decisions about their upcoming fall semesters, I was enrolled in a series of political science and literature courses in which it seemed that all the seminal figures of study had passed through the West African city in moments of artistic growth, pan-African organizing, or simple, unabashed leisure. I, too, am an artist seeking growth, I told myself. A young, Black woman from the United States who felt her place within diaspora. A college kid who wanted five months away in a new place with new people.

Survival and Dying

Years ago, I wrote that Glen McGinnis didn’t know he would live forever. But of course, he didn’t. He died, in a prison in Huntsville, Texas. From a cell in Texas he wanted to write his way out of a date with an electric chair nicknamed “Old Sparky.” His letters, written to anyone who would listen, were filled with prison’s literacy: awkward phrases like “I was told that your person” and “I do hope that by the time this missive reaches you.” The way he wrote said that he was educated within a cell, his letters peppered with words no longer heard outside of prison walls.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

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