Co-curated by Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo
Cassandra Press was founded in 2016 by artist Kandis Williams as an independent publishing project. At its core, Cassandra Press examines tools of perception and racism, and their dominant role and expressions within current sociocultural systems. The press publishes lo-fi readers with texts by Black critical theorists, organises 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 includes an exhibition featuring a reading room and research installation containing the entire catalogue of Cassandra Press Readers and Special Collections and launching a new series of Artist Zines. Among the artists invited to produce contributions for this project are Christine Wang, Hannah Black, manuel arturo abreu and Boz Garden and Charlotte Zhang. This will be the first presentation of the Artist Zines and Special Collections since Cassandra Press’s participation in the Whitney Biennial 2022 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It will also be the first time the Artist Zines are shared in Europe.
For the second part of the project, Williams and artist Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo (Puppies Puppies) produce a new reader and materials on self-defense, especially for people from 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 artists enter into a conversation about physical and spiritual forms of protection. The Reader on Self-Defense will help to shape a nuanced and complex dialogue about self-defense movements, centred on personal safety and social power dynamics. In an effort to redistribute institutional resources, parts of the project budget will be used for Cassandra Press to organise, promote and host courses on self-defense for queer communities of colour in New York, Berlin and Paris.
By stepping outside the traditional exhibition model, this project furthers the groundwork for a collaborative form of learning and theorising in community. The project will evolve throughout the exhibition period, using the exhibition space as a site for self-study and research.