frequently asked questions
+ WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, martine?
- WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, martine?
Since 2010 I have spent many hours in the waiting spaces affiliated with prisons and jails. I felt that I wanted to liberate from those cramped rooms the range of feelings I've had over the years -- excitement, joy, rage, annoyance, frustration, exhaustion, and more. Moreover, I realized that those tiny ass rooms hold lifetimes-worth of those feelings for so many of us, especially those of us who experience the world as women and femmes. I wanted to feel not so alone, because I know I am not. I identify as a Black queer low-key femme, often use "they" pronouns, and wanted to be in communion with other queer kin in the waiting room.
+ but WHY would i want to do this?
- but WHY would i want to do this?
Because it feels good to tell your truth. Also, it feels good to see your story commingling with the stories of others. Also, people who do not go to these spaces don't know these stories and don't think this has anything to do with them, who don't think they are also harmed by the Pic. together, we can make art that says otherwise. We can make art that helps people connect their own experiences with the experiences of those who are most affected by architectures of subjugating white supremacist state violence (aka: prisons, jails, and courts). I think that personal narratives are a powerful way to do this. Lastly, I think there are others who (like me) have felt alone in their feelings around the experience of caring for loved ones inside. this is an opportunity for us to be reminded that we are many, and to witness our collective power as caretakers and story-keepers.
+ But the fact that I care for loved ones inside isn't about me, it's about my people inside. Why would we want to take the focus off of them?
- But the fact that I care for loved ones inside isn't about me, it's about my people inside. Why would we want to take the focus off of them?
I am an abolitionist, meaning I believe that in the words of Albert Woodfox, "we must think, dream, and vision... a world beyond prisons." part of getting there is sharing with the world our stories as people with the unique experience of caring for people inside. the more our stories unleashed on the world -- stories from people currently and formerly incarcerated, as well as the stories of those who travel in and out of prisons on a regular basis -- the better chance we have to illuminate the atrocities of a system that exists to subjugate and exterminate people.
+ what kind of prompts or questions are you asking?
- what kind of prompts or questions are you asking?
The form is simple. I ask where you have visited and then leave it up to you how you would like to share. I am mostly interested in feelings that have come up as you've waited in those places, or after you've left or before you've arrived. For example, I often feel tightness in my chest and shortness of breath as I approach Stateville prison, and the dueling banjos song from deliverance always plays in my head. I usually feel very distracted in the waiting room, trying to keep track of everything going on, make sure I don't have any contraband on me, and to listen for my chance to get patted down.
As we reflect on those moments, some of us may need or want to provide lots of detail about a particular visit, which is great and also not necessary. All I ask is you share only what feels right for you.
+ I feel really connected to waiting rooms, but at another kind of institution (for example, in hospitals). Do you want to hear from me?
- I feel really connected to waiting rooms, but at another kind of institution (for example, in hospitals). Do you want to hear from me?
I am particularly interested in the experiences of folks who've spent time waiting in spaces of subjugating white supremacist state violence. If you feel that the institution you have the most experience waiting in is that type of space, I would be interested in hearing more from you.
+ I feel really connected to this, but do not identify as a woman or a femme. Do you want to hear from me?
- I feel really connected to this, but do not identify as a woman or a femme. Do you want to hear from me?
I'm interested in hearing from people who get tagged in public space as a woman or a femme -- as well as people who are not always legible as such but personally identify as women or femmes. (For example, if in public you are frequently hailed with pronouns like "she" or "her," but you don't identify with those pronouns, I would like to hear from you. If you do identify with "she" and "her," but frequently get mis-pronouned some other way, I would also like to hear from you. If you are generally greeted with the pronoun of your choice, and that corresponds to "she" or "her," I would also like to hear from you. If in public you are not hailed with "she" or "her," but use this for yourself among friends and family only, I want to hear from you. If you used to get "she" and "her" but no longer do, whether or not you still identify with those pronouns, I want to hear from you.)
+ huh? i'm a little confused.
- huh? i'm a little confused.
+ I'm a straight ciswoman, and have been called "she" my whole life. Do you want to hear from me?
- I'm a straight ciswoman, and have been called "she" my whole life. Do you want to hear from me?
+ i identify or am identified as a queer woman or femme, but i am white. Do you want to hear from me?
- i identify or am identified as a queer woman or femme, but i am white. Do you want to hear from me?
+ will i have control over how much information is published?
- will i have control over how much information is published?
Yes. You tell me only what you want (and can use images, sound, and video as well). if you find that you want to redact some of it before the final draft, you have until july 31, 2021 to shoot me a message here and let me know. You will also be able to decide whether or not you want your name published, or a pseudonym.
+ where will this eventually go?
- where will this eventually go?
this book will be published as part of a limited edition album release featuring music from the opera. the opera itself will travel to various art spaces -- This includes predominantly white art institutions as well as community-based, artist-run, and alternative art spaces. The live show will offer another opportunity for theater-going audiences to connect with the book. I am also considering the possibility of the book existing in print as well as online, so that it can be more widely disseminated. i will keep all contributors abreast of updates via your preferred method of contact.
This is an aspirational timeline:
this website goes live may 1
last opportunity to submit early-July, followed by a month and a half for edits
A final draft by late august
final publication with album release in early fall