The M.I.A. documentary reminds me so much of why making art is the most healing work we can do. Also, a million other things:
The first time I heard M.I.A. with Mike in Miami. We listened to Bucky Done Gun. On repeat. For days.
It was everything.
The first time I experienced a sound that embodied what it *felt* like to grow up in a place where 3rd world 1st generation immigrants and refugees were the majority.
where almost everyone I knew was un/consciously living in the shadow of whatever fucked up thing (a war, an economic collapse, a failed revolution) that led us here.
where almost everyone I was close to has a loved one who was murdered or disappeared or imprisoned or persecuted by governments or cartels or police or people caught up in the sweeping tide of trying to get power or trying to get free.
where no one speaks English well, if at all.
where todo es un negocio clandestino and imagination is ?.
where our ways of living and surviving taught me what it really means to ride or die, to practice solidarity, to have each other’s backs.
where as a kid, I could never get a word in when trying to unpack and negotiate what it meant to be “over here” instead of “over there”.
where the adults would trigger each others’ trauma on the daily whenever they would talk about “home”.
where I was told by everyone everyday, who I was and who I wasn’t — because I was too young, because we couldn’t return, because I couldn’t remember, because my experience was not valid.
where I would become silent and withdrawn for years as a consequence of this erasure.
M.I.A.’s music felt like the whole of everything I was living but had no language to articulate suddenly blew up the underground of erasures, contradictions and traumas into a force of deep bass drops, sick sub/tropical rhythms, and a fierce AF attitude that entered thru my ears and moved thru my whole body like it was the first time I had a whole body, a whole story that connected me to all of the other immigrant diaspora stories – the only narrative of (un-)“belonging” that has ever felt real to me.
Emily Martinez is a queer Latinx, 1st generation Cuban immigrant, raised by Miami, living in Los Angeles. She is a new media artist, digital strategist, developer, educator, activist, and serial collaborator who believes in the tactical misuse of technology. Her recent works take on the sharing economy, digital labor struggles, algorithmic bias, surveillance capitalism, crypto colonialism, tech bros, and tech culture at large. Long-term projects/departures/returns explore trauma, queerness, and in/visibility. Emily’ art and research has been published in Leonardo Journal (MIT Press), Entreprecariat (Institute of Network Cultures), Temporary Art Review, and Filmmaker Magazine. Her work has been exhibited at The Wrong Biennale, Transmediale (Berlin, DE), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), MoMA PS1 (New York), V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media (Rotterdam, NL), WRO Media Art Biennale (Wroclaw, Poland) and The Luminary (St. Louis, MO). @queerai