Studio CNS / Counter Narrative Society

Thesis Project: The Weight I Carry With Me

When the invisible punishing machine is everywhere

MAY 18, 2011 | Cambridge, MA

For my thesis project, I choreographed a 30 minutes three parts event as a performance, a lecture and site-specific installation that made used of the old-new Media Lab complex at MIT.  The general aimed was to unpack (or transform) the material weight, the emotional weight and the intellectual weight  I carry from witnessing and studying the invisible punishing machine.


1st Stop – Introduction – at the Workshop

From the philosophical attitude of the CNS where the portable and reusable are central to the work, I installed on two large tables the (emotional and intellectual) weight I have turned into counter narratives over the years. Currently I define the counter narrative as a kind of paradoxical and interrogative remedy, which symbolically uses the idea of poisonous treatment. On one hand it creates anomalous situations; on the other hand, this analytical method opens the opportunities to initiate dialogue about bio-political issues. Therefore, the material weight is an exposition on the one hand about various projects that deals with the affective consequences of alienation, incarceration, historical and symbolic violence; on the other hand,  these projects are tools to initiate counter narratives through conversations, workshops, encounters, installations, interventions, performances and research. For example, I had on display several projects: the Sensible Housing Unit (SHU), the Racial Pre-filing Vest and the Passing the Ball which at any given moment I can use for new works in the public sphere.

Accompanying the display of the material weight, I did a short lecture, which touched on the theoretical and the affective qualities of the research. Last, I introduced the general itinerary for the event and I asked the audience to pick up a wedge from the table and to follow me.


2nd Stop – Unpacking the Weight – Stairwells

From the workshop, I led a walk to the Lower Lever of the stairwells (the basement) between the old and new media lab. I distributed an artist-book and recited a poem I wrote specifically for the occasion and space. While I recited the poem and I drew with chalk  several rectangular shapes around me on the floor and walls. Concentrically, each one was larger then the previous one and on one occasion I drew a line over an audience who was sitting on the floor. After half way of my poem, I started to walk up the stairs and I disappeared into the distance. (At this point people followed my friend Tomashi).

(Dedicated to the Prisoner Hunger Strike at Pelican Bay State Prison…and the growing movement that is fighting divisions, isolation, dislocation, alienation and torture)| July 2011

I used this space because acoustically and architecturally, the cavernous and crude concrete qualities of the space resemblance the cruel environment of the modern prison while the upward and downward circular motion resemblance the “dark to light” myth – an underlying perspective that appears everywhere in the social-spatial politics of this capitalist society. Also, the space lent itself as a metaphor for the tacit divisions I have experienced from living in a society of control where those with material privilege are often house in spaces of opulence and those who have nothing may ended up in places that are harsh and inhumane.

Once I reached the 4th floor, I walked to the nearest elevator and I waited for the audience to travel with me to the top level of the new Media Lab.


3rd Stop – Rehearsals for Future Actions – Skyline Room 6th Floor

Video/Sound Installation “The Interview” plus live solo sit-in.


At our arrival of the 6th floor, I had a sound/video installation called Rehearsals for Future Actions. It consisted of two performance based videos and me symbolically doing a live solo sit-in facing the cityscape. Coincidentally, it was a foggy day, which ironically made part of the machine, disappears.

I reserved this space with the help of my department because the 6th floor of the Maki Building is designed to host conferences, dinner parties, and all kinds of events. The scholastic and corporate community of the Media Lab and MIT uses it often.  It has a skyline and an amazing view into the Charles River and the city escape of Boston. It is the “penthouse” of the department and for the MIT community. Therefore in considering all of these elements and the subject matter, I presented a counter narrative. The work conceptually and paradoxically calls on the resistance of the invisible punishing machine from within its own institutionalization.

Video/Sound Installation: ” Rehearsal Sit-in”

Last, this project-thesis serves as the main conceptual framework for the material, affective and intellectual weight that I am accumulating and documenting for future works.


…unpacking the material, affective and intellectual weigh