Identity Politics :: Continuum Politics

The problem of identity politics is a problem of body.

It is the idea that we ‘are’ what – and only – as we appear to be. It’s the idea that body takes precedence, that form is singularly determining of creation, evolution, growth, development, capacity… and a determinant of codes and coding, to be read literally like descriptors of a thing. It is objectification because the myriad-infinity of available combinations and psycho-social-ethical-cultural disciplinary continuums are presumed to read easy – a singled out story, a pre-scribed range of possibility. Looks like, will be.. Judging a book by its cover.

For all of its contributions, from the crucial grounding of difference vis-à-vis patterns and policies of violence, sanctioned and not, Identity Politics is invariably a return to the oldest of essentialisms: where ‘body x’ means ‘x’ – hopes, dreams, skills, literacies, fluencies, likes, dislikes… The expectation that what appears as… is only this, that, those – not more, not less. Objectification is (a) simplification. It serves the viewer. It is desire waiting to be satisfied. Non-compliance thwarts desire, confuses the simplifying mind, simultaneously exposing its simplicity, its fallibility. It also gives more to think about – which may or may not be welcome, may or may not find will and/or skill adequate for this new encounter – the additional stuff that wasn’t suppose to be (there), that doesn’t fit the prefab containers (narrow by definition), invisible absences making appearances, too much stuff, unknown, unfamiliar, unorthodox, unexpected. More parts than the prevailing ideology was intended to handle – creating unwanted surprise, shock, conflict… all the kinds of responses normally elicited: denial, rejection, vilification, prohibition censorship, elimination.

Identity politics is an irreducible and vital response to lived violence. We need the recognition, politicization and informed response that ID politics affords in order to mount strategy and solution-finding, to hold accountable individuals, social institutions, cultural practices for their contributions to these deeply patterned and ingrained injustices. But the illuminating qualities of ID politics also reinscribe the categories of being and being-as that are foundationally antithetical to becoming sole persons of infinite variation and possibility.

Kill the messenger:
who speaks more than one language.
who can code switch
who belongs to more than one
who has seen what you cannot see
visited where you have not been
is what you can’t imagine
does what you do not dare
accomplished what you do not know exists.

Identity based on body, limits because it forces amalgams of complexity into singular compositions of externalities that while integral and determining are not objects – are subjects, are vast unique systems of selectivity, nuance and radical specificity. We need a social politics that moves beyond category of time, place, language, shape, form or circumstance into finer more subtle assignments…

I propose: frequencies, “ethical frequencies” as the foundational units of our conscious engagement with each other; arranged in continuums as sliding scales of meaning constituting Continuum Politics.

revised: Sp 2016

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Sins of the New Millennium

Sins- CardPhoto noborder



Postcard 2000 — see

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Garbage: Use is abuse in a different registry.


Garbage Text


Transforming waste elements from everyday life is a process that distills both the specificity of the past, and the authority of the present. Issuing from matter, a treatise emerges redeeming life/lives discarded. An afterlife is realized; one that is independent of the value assigned by an all-assuming cultural order – this is a political act. Speaking to, for, about, and/or against each other, new relations evidence all knowledge to be a form of bias. As salvage, garbage constructs assault anthropocentric notions of usefulness, forcing historically existing individuals to witness, and to relinquish certain conveniences of thought. Articulating touch, presence, order and defiance, the tactile utterance suggests a mythological afterworld. It is not that objects can remember – it is not a question of memory – but of existence: a kind of cosmological order of unalienable rights. Theirs is the ability to insist what persons might otherwise forget – the corporeal reality of ambiguity, the ambiguity of corporal reality: and the impossibility of documentation ever to suffice.


Tracy Ann Essoglou © 1990
No Evidence, A/C Project Room

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What is the proper redress for willful ignorance, for defiant gluttony and abject disregard for massacre, genocide and extinction?

It seems to me that there is not only the narcissism of self, but that there is a socio-cultural bravura that loves itself and wants to assert its innocence, rightfulness and will to be, against all shareable reason: historical fact, chronologies of events, quantities of victims…

Is it/It is a narcissism of belonging — which makes me wonder about the insecurity of that ‘belonging’ if any truth-bearing illumination threatens it to the point of reflexive aggressive annihilation of the intruding logic. If you believe, why so easily confounded, toppled, insecure? If so sure why the low slung prohibitions against speaking wider truths that include more information, more stories, more lives?

Ultimately, there is that which is demonstrable and that which is fantastic. How is it that we have lost the resolution to see the difference? To be so enamored with one’s own exclusive comfort is an invitation to insecurity because there will always be something and someone whose real injury is greater. To be truly thoughtful and expansive, to aim for the widest possible good and inclusion is not PC, it is extreme caring.

Denial is an extremely dangerous condition — not only for climate. It is a form of lying. It is what allows any powerful or persuasive status to move swiftly along without regard or responsibility for its damage… whatever the issue.

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Without shame, there can be no trust. Shame is the thing that keeps us from neglecting our conscience — like a kind of gravity for a moral compass. It urges us to make coherent the elemental structures of living, being, thinking, acting.

Without shame, limitlessness becomes a possible tyranny of perspective, place, position or privilege.
When one fails one’s word, s/he shuts down social possibility.
Not protecting, reciprocating, negotiating and/or communicating is an injunctive to treat all things by contract and with law. It is the antithesis of freedom because it can only function with respect to an egotism of self over others. Without shame it is despairingly easy to champion one’s own desire over another’s needs — we do it all the time.

Without shame to redress wrongdoing, there can be only punishment, and invitation to enforcement by a larger body or a designated authority.  To refuse attempts for resolution is denial of the other being and an invocation of rule.

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Trust: a working capital.

The working capital of the NGO is trust.
It is the foundation of partnering in the work-scape and scope of the NGO/CSO. Organizers, clients, partners, funders, providers… All stakeholders rely on trust as the operating liquidity of relations, programming and repeatable successful execution.

Troping… Trust.
It’s a natural resource. It presents in varying quantities, from abundance to scarcity. It can be abused, run out and often does. When consumed, it takes immense energy to restore and effort to find an alternate source.

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Agitprop: Abstraction

I have no more patience for the tongues of management, for those who tell me to be nice, to be patient, to be less expectant – for my own good. There is at least one truth in the face of injustice and deceit: the ‘appropriate’ is inadequate, and that which would be adequate is dismissed as inappropriate. Erase me as you see fit my dust won’t know the difference, and you can bet that they will not “still remember” because it is not in the interest of power ever to remember.

Perhaps Abstraction becomes the face of Amnesia
when the details are too disempowering to recall.

— TAE (Art) Project: AGITPROP#33, for In Your Face, 1992.

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Immigration: “Illegal” to “undocumented” is still, more authentically, the condition of being “un-situated.”

Over a year’s worth: petitions to television programming  jumped on the hideous language of “illegality” as applied to persons who have migrated from one territory to another. That no person should be named “illegal” is without saying —
funny (read: atrocious),  how those ‘without saying things’ still need to be constantly said.

But is the term “undocumented,” any real improvement?
Is it any more respectful, accurate or truth-holding?
I think not…
What does it mean to be ‘documented’ in the first place?

Short answer: documentation of one’s existence, should be on everyone’s list as a privilege.
Children are born but alarmingly, many still, are not registered into sanctioned legal existence. And whatever one’s  “Big Brother” fears may be, to have no registration of one’s birth, is not some would-be glam aspect of a wannabe ‘nomadology.’

The other issue is that migrating persons often do have documents from their home, their place of origin. In other words, they are not “undocumented” at large, any more than they could be said to be ‘illegal,’ but only with respect to the new territory in which they find themselves. This is an important distinction for the sake of truthfulness alone. Just ask what some random ‘+/- cosmo’ having lost their wallet, would submit to being called: “undocumented”? In the case of the privileged, the presumption is — a negotiable ‘carte blanche’ — in favor of a circumscribed, limited and transitory period of time. Shouldn’t we also be asking ourselves and others, why isn’t this temporary status afforded to immigrants? Shouldn’t the predicament of being newly-arrived in a foreign environment, also be a ‘temporary’ affair and not entail years of bureaucratically-induced paralysis, languishing, even PTSD… as is currently the case — more or less,  worldwide?  And shouldn’t the language we use to describe a person’s status encapsulate the nature of that status itself?

Having just been an immigration-hostage of a southern European country unexpectedly for seven years as I waited for a requested one-year visa (!) , I feel like I have every reason to weigh in on this argument… I have something to say about the horrendous insult and injury that defines most immigrations today. While everything imaginable went wrong, I consoled myself on how lucky I was by comparison.

The term I suggest is: “unsituated” because without local sanction a person cannot become situated, cannot hope to begin functioning, participating or contributing in or to their new environs. Unsituated persons are living in forced suspended animation that is damaging, useless and profoundly cost-ineffective. ‘Unsituated’ directs attention to the fact that the ‘un-‘ is a predicament of circumstance and that it should be temporary. A person can’t live their potential caught in suspended animation. There’s a reason we use the trope of being grounded for rights, reason and sanity… the loss of one’s ground is a harrowing reality; the abject disavowal of one’s existence and identity on the basis of law and documents can sometimes does make you insane — after all what actual choice do you have ‘to be,’ ‘be as…’, or ‘not be’?

Immigrants are.
The more we do to facilitate a peaceful transition and the sooner we get them & us situated, the better it can be for everyone.

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Person(s) + place(s) + thing(s) = situation

BAUHAUS for SD logo

Situation is the cell of experience.
Experience is the aggregate of lived-situations.
Change the situation; change the experience.

Design the situation; define the experience.

Rendering Dimensions, Surrendering Dominion:
An Epistemological Inquiry into Being-Grounded.
Tracy Ann Essoglou, Dissertation: EGS. 2002.

Image: Oskar Schlemmer, The Theatre of the Bauhaus.

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“Art is a portal…

“Art is a portal for what is missing. By means of artistic investigation and creation, new forms of envisioning, inquiry and information emerge in and outside of language. Operating materials, surfaces, textures, positionings, proportion, color, scale… artists render invisible absences in(to) shareable experience. Missing modules of meaning are detected, delineated and things that tend not to lend themselves to presence, become.

— Tracy Ann Essoglou, Crespano/Pula/NYC. 2009-13.

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