A monthly digital publication of artists’ dispatches on the life conditions that necessitate their work.


2023 Fall Letter from the Editor

As we mark one year since launching Protodispatch, I’m thinking about what it means to be in the now. The past and the future collide here, making some realities crystal clear and muddying the waters on other fronts. Most days I’m wading through some in-between where the coast is decidedly not clear and kinda cloudy, if not downright obscured. Maybe this is why I have been so moved by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk’s provocation that we must practice today for the “Not Yet.” The Not Yet is a place that we wish to be, a way of living and working otherwise. Putting it off to some utopian future time is not an option, we need to enact it now, and in fact, we are living, so we might as well do it better. And while it isn’t going to be perfect, at least it is an attempt to live as we desire.

I say this because one of the most poignant things I’ve learned over the past year of work on Protodispatch is that the dispatches have been created in response to the conditions that artists are finding so urgent that they commit to making work about them. They are looking at the now and responding with proposals that might break us out of the mythology of some better future and into enacting it today. I loved, for instance, Kenya (Robinson)’s highly researched and lyrical reflection on water and Black life. Its poetics match its taut presentation of how survivance and joy are in and of themselves tools towards clarity. In another dispatch, Mel Chin takes us back to a work he performed 20 years ago, locating the roots of the January 6th insurrection and the ongoing, egregious harm gun violence continually inflicts. From Boriquen (Puerto Rico), Jorge González speaks to the need to preserve Indigenous knowledge as a reparative strategy for colonial erasure. An anonymous collective from Iran takes a powerful look at how the act of archiving the images and stories on social media from the Women’s Revolution preserves a radical story. Tiffany Sia and her compatriots discuss what it means to make film now in Hong Kong, both in exile and on the ground. All of these artists and cultural producers put the conditions of life at the center of their artistic practices, not just because they are struggling with them, but also to enact a desired future now.

As for recent and upcoming posts, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abu-Rahme give us poetry, music, and movement in their video Until We Became Fire And Fire Us. Next we hear from Ana María Millán on how we might live within tyranny; Himali Singh Soin goes deep on translucency as a way to lever open imagination in addressing many forms of crisis, particularly those around the viability of our planet, and in the new year, Cassils reflects on trans experiences in today’s hostile political landscape in the US… There is a great deal more to come, and I invite you to follow along. Muddle through with us in the most eye-opening ways.

Take care,