The “language in common” can be understood as a call for the left to create signs, symbols, and traditions that can both unify the movement and withstand attempts at co-option by the state and capital. The precedent for such an undertaking can be found in Indigenous cultures of protest and resilience, which have served to unite a movement without essentializing its participants.
A live conversation in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on this topic will feature Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies Lou Cornum, Associate Professor of History Jeffers Lennox, and artist and art historian Steve Lyons, a core member of Not An Alternative / The Natural History Museum, and co-author of the November 2020 e-flux Journal article “The Language in Common.”
This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition The Language in Common, on display in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from Tuesday, September 14 through Sunday, December 12, 2021. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from Noon to 5pm. For more information and related events, visit the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery exhibition page.
Lou Cornum is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies in the American Studies Department at Wesleyan University, where they are at work on their first book manuscript, Skin Worlds: Speculative Geographies Across Indigenous and Black Literatures. Their essays and art criticism can be found in Art in America, Frieze, Canadian Art, The New Inquiry, and Pinko: A Magazine of Gay Communism. They are an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, a two-spirit dyke, and an amateur mycologist.
Jeffers Lennox is an Associate Professor of History at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Homelands and Empires (University of Toronto Press, 2017) and North of America: Homelands, British Provinces, and Creating the United States (Yale University Press, 2022). His current book project explores the history of protest music in early America.
Steve Lyons is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. He is also a core member of art/activist collective Not An Alternative, where he contributes to the ongoing project The Natural History Museum (2014-), a mobile and pop-up museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature. Recent essays on art, left counter-power, and environmental justice have appeared in e-flux Journal, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Museum Activism (Routledge, 2019), and The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (Routledge, 2021).