FROM THE EDITOR
14 September, 2022
My longtime friend and co-conspirator, Mari Spirito, and I have had innumerable deep conversations about how the hyper-local relates to the transcontinental, particularly in terms of cultural production. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we both relied heavily on digital platforms for the interconnection we so missed during our isolation, and we pointedly felt our personal reliance on our networks of friends and colleagues over great distances. Even as it has become possible to travel again, we acknowledge the need not only to prepare for other potential quarantines, but also to examine our contributions to the climate crisis. Further, as the ravages of extractive capitalism and environmental disasters unfold in conjunction with deepening economic crises and the mushrooming of oppressive regimes around the globe, we feel a deep need to stay connected, at a minimum to support one another’s survival. Of course, being glass half-full kinda gals, Mari and I are also invested in locating joy beyond survival and believe artistic production is an essential element for connecting with the richness and variety of human states.
Art and culture have enormous potential to shift our imaginations, perhaps they are the most essential aspects of what is necessary to combat the forces currently at work and bring about change. With this in mind, we are launching Protodispatch, a digital journal of artists’ contributions focusing on what is most urgent to them. We've imagined Protodispatch as a site for global publics that offers ideas for how we might survive and thrive in a world beset by precarity and violence. While our material circumstances might differ radically, we all face pandemic, late capitalism, and colonialism as powerful forces in daily life. If part of art’s potential is to help us imagine otherwise, Protodispatchis a platform that provides a place of connection, even hope.
I am excited to present our initial round of commissions, which focus on a diversity of subjects in varied geographies. They are all brilliant in their own particular way, and I hope you will find them provocative and energizing. Tiffany Sia (with Emilie Sin Yi Choi and Chan Tze-Woon) discusses the perils and opportunities of working in Hong Kong in the wake of shattered pro-democracy protests. Ximena Garrido and Ishmael Randal Weeks describe a process of building a structure communally out of materials brought by participants, revealing the strength of collective memory and its capacity to unveil corruption and lies in the context of Peru’s recent and deep pasts. Through a hyperlinked lyric essay, and a forthcoming month-long social media takeover, Kenya (Robinson) explores Black people and water—both fresh and saltwater—as an essential part of the storytelling of US histories. Jorge González, in an email exchange accompanied by a diary of images and texts, practices and reflects on the relearning of traditional crafts in Boriken (Puerto Rico) as a recuperative strategy for colonial erasure. And soon we will add additional contributions from Simone Leigh and Avni Sethi.
To broaden the reach of Protodispatch, Artnet will partner with us to share the artists’ dispatches with over 5 million monthly readers from more than 239 countries and territories. We will also work to co-publish with other publications in the geographies in which the commissioned artists are working. As with most experimental projects, this is a work in progress, and we are committed to co-learning with our publics and collaborators. We look forward to sharing new dispatches with you and to hearing your feedback.