Joshua Chambers-Letson "Shatter and Scream: Breaking Down with Yoko Ono"

HTC Forum Nov 1

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"Shatter and Scream: Breaking Down with Yoko Ono"

Screams have always been a component of Yoko Ono’s artistic practice, but rather than received as an act of communication, the dominant reception has been not to listen. Offering a meditation on the queer dynamics of Asian American grief, this talk lingers in and listens to Ono’s shatter and scream as she mobilizes affective expressions that are at times explosive, and at others depressive, to perform various modes of coming undone, shattering, falling apart, and breaking down. Attending to the place of the scream in Ono’s work, the talk describes the contours of an affective posture that allows a person or people to navigate the recurrently shattering (and often deeply racialized and gendered) effects of loss and grief. It asks, in other words, how Ono’s performance of the shatter and scream can function as a practice of living-with and working-with grief, shattering, and depression in their deeply racialized and gendered dimensions?


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The HTC Forum is organized by the 
History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art
and made possible by the
Lipstadt-Stieber Fund.


Joshua Chambers-Letson (any pronoun) is Professor of Performance Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University and author of After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (2018) and A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America (2013); co-editor of José Esteban Muñoz’s The Sense of Brown with Tavia Nyong’o and of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s China Trilogy: Three Parables of Global Capital with Christine Moke; and series co-editor of NYU Press’s Sexual Cultures series with Tavia Nyong’o and Ann Pellegrini. JCL is currently at work on a monograph about the art of queer love and loss.