press release

18.11.2022 - 11.04.2023

Cassandra Press: On Self-Defense—a Cassandra Press reader in action

Co-curated by Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo (Puppies Puppies)

Cassandra Press was founded in 2016 by artist Kandis Williams as a pedagogically based independent publishing project. At its core, Cassandra Press examines tools of perception and racism, and their dominant role and expressions, within the current sociocultural systems. The press publishes lo-fi readers with texts by Black critical theorists, organizes courses and produces artist zines and catalogues covering a broad range of topics that fuse questions of ethics, racial colonial violence, white supremacist delusion, and aesthetics. Some recent Cassandra Press publications include “Misogynoir,” a reflection on sexual violence and slavery’s perversion of sexuality; “Black Twitter,” a crash course on media theory, literacy and intersections with critical race theory; and “Cannibalism, Blackface & Minstrelsy.” The Cassandra Press artist zine series curated and commissioned by Williams invites artists to publish conceptual texts, original and sourced artworks, essays, poems and stories.

In partnership with Bergen Kunsthall, Cassandra Press presents the two-part project On Self-Defense. The first part of this project opens with a reading room installation with the full catalogue of Cassandra Press readers and a new series of artist zines. Among the artists invited to produce the artist zines for the exhibition are Christine Wang, Hannah Black, manuel arturo abreu and Boz Garden and Charlotte Zhang. This will be the first presentation of artist zines and special edition readers since Cassandra Press’ participation in the Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept at the Whitney Museum, New York. It will also be the first time these artist zines are shared in Europe.

For the second part of the project, Williams and artist Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo (Puppies Puppies) will carry out a research project on self-defense. Williams and Puppies Puppies will come together to discuss issues of safety, especially for people who identify as a part of the trans and BIPOC communities. By meeting with martial arts, self-defense, and mental health coaches, as well as researching past self-defense movements, the two will be in conversation about physical and spiritual forms of protection. This dialogue will guide the construction of a new reader, Reader on Self-Defense. In addition, Cassandra Press will organize and host two courses on self-defense to queer communities of color.

The Reader on Self-Defense will be included in a second part of the exhibition, opening in March 2023, helping to shape a nuanced and complex dialogue about self-defense movements, centered on personal safety and social power dynamics. By stepping outside the traditional exhibition model, this project furthers the groundwork for a collaborative form of learning and theorizing in community. This constructive process includes a display of work that will evolve throughout the project, making intentional use of the exhibition space and time as a site for research.

Pulling away from the constructs of individualized self-protection, Cassandra Press in collaboration with Bergen Kunsthall uses the On Self-Defense project and the resources for its production to create tools that further a conversation and provide practical help, particularly for members of the trans and BIPOC communities.