Spotlight: Broken Boxes Podcast

A universe of stars came together when I found the Broken Boxes podcast. The interviews of various artists I admire and the mission driving this collection is dear and impressive to say the least. Recognizing how small and interconnected the world is, a collaborative force of a friend, Cougar Vigil, brought my attention to the artist Ginger Dunnill, who founded and produces the Broken Boxes Podcast. I reached out via email to inquire more.
Thank you for your time and words, Ginger. I look forward to the day we meet in person.

EMD: What are you currently working on?

GD: Oh my goodness, where to even start! I am grateful to always be able to support so many folks in the work I do, and there are a lot of irons in the fire this year for sure!

I am always and currently releasing at least one episode a month of the podcast Broken Boxes. This project is so dear to me, and I feel very humbled to have the opportunity to share stories of so many incredible activated humans of our time while supporting intersectionality and combating isolation. BBP just had it’s 4 year anniversary in February, and I look forward to what the future holds for the project in the years to come!

Between the Waters at the Whitney Museum of American Art¹

I have also just finished a video work with multi-disciplinary artist, longtime friend and collaborator Demian DinéYazhi’. We created a video/sound piece titled “BURYING WHITE SUPREMACY” for Between The Waters, a group exhibition which is currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. This work will be ongoing, conceptually shifting through many different mediums as we unpack this dialogue. We are currently expanding upon the work and concept for a printed version, which I can’t quiet share the details. This work is very exciting and enables us to subversively call out the systematic toxins of white supremacy while developing language around moving through its dark magic. The work also initiates accountability, which is very important for healing from the pain inflicted onto all peoples by colonization and white supremacy.

Ginger Dunnill and Kim Smith

Another incredible project I am honored to be a contributor for is the online publication Indigenous Goddess Gang. This project was the vision of my dear friend Kim Smith. Beginning in October of 2017 I was grateful to support her in realizing this project, and collectively we are entering the 5th issue of IGG, releasing in early April 2018. My role in this project is to act as tech support, Editor, and also to contribute content through a podcast series titled Dear Patriarchy, which is hosted in partnership between Indigenous Goddess Gang and Broken Boxes Podcast and features continual content contribution by collaborating artist Demian DinéYazhi’.

Ginger and Demian
Ginger and Demian

There is also an event I am VERY excited to be supporting in co-organizing with Kua’aina Associates own Carolyn Kuali’i. The event is an Indigenous Tattoo Symposium taking place at Santa Fe Art Institute in Santa Fe, NM during Indian Market weekend 2018. The symposium will bring together Indigenous tattoo artist from across the Pacific and Turtle Island who practice traditional techniques of tattooing and who are engaged in reviving the traditions of tattooing in their communities. We are still working out many of the details of the event, as we just secured the venue in the last month, but as of now what I can share is that we are hoping to hold the symposium on Sunday, August 19th at SFAI, Santa Fe NM. If anyone would like to find more about the symposium as it develops, please check leading up to August, as I will be creating a resource page in the Exhibition section of the site in relationship to the symposium.
EMD: Where did the Dear Patriarchy series elaborate from?

GD: The Dear Patriarchy series on Broken Boxes podcast came to life with the launch of the Indigenous Goddess Gang online publication, and marks another moment of intersection and collaboration in my practice. The concept of Dear Patriarchy birthed In April of 2017 when IGG founder Kim Smith and I co-hosted a fundraiser event titled Dear Patriarchy, in Santa Fe, NM. The evening included music, poetry, video, interactive art and public speakers. The event sold out in advance and we raised over $10,000 in funding which went directly towards Indigenous led resistance projects to protect Mother Earth including NO Haul Uranium, Haul No! and the Zapatista Liberation School. We saw the strength and solidarity the event held, as we stood together unapologetically as Indigenous women, accomplices, gender gradient communities, youth, elders, POC, and artists; all coming together against Patriarchy and all its many toxic practices such as colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy.

It was apparent the radical edge of intersectionality and calling out of the beast of patriarchy through intersectionality must continue, and so I used the privilege of my platform with Broken Boxes Podcast to continue the conversation. The Dear Patriarchy series does not only center indigenous women in the conversation, but it explicitly centers the crucial work of our queer, trans, two-spirit and non-binary communities, Dear Patriarchy acts as a space to center this perspective as much as possible in the content it pushes out, either through the podcast or the accompanying blog. Artist Demian DinéYazhi’ has come onto the Dear Patriarchy platform as a regular contributor to the podcast and also in supporting content from an Indigenous Queer lens. The Dear Patriarchy series is created in partnership through Indigenous Goddess Gang, and we are grateful to continue the conversation through the IGG femme centered space to include queer, trans, two-spirit and non-binary communities as crucial voices for us to truly smash the patriarchy.

The Broken Boxes show at Form and Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Broken Boxes show at Form and Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Dear Patriarchy project is evolving and multifaceted, and the podcast series is just one part of the evolution of the project. Through event programing, music, printed material, podcasting, and interactive art, Dear Patriarchy is a platform created to provide recognition and space for Resistance Art and Action led by our Indigenous women, femme identifying communities, our queer, trans, two-spirit and non-binary communities, our Matriarchs and our humble accomplices. Together we create artistic resistance and support the protection for Mother Earth and support the dismantling of patriarchy.

EMD: What were some things you learned from organizing the exhibition Broken Boxes?
With the Broken Boxes exhibition last August held at form & concept in Santa Fe NM, I really learned so much! My biggest takeaway was remembering to always respect and care for the relationships you build with the people you work with. I have been honored to share the stories of so many people I admire through the podcast project and in hosting an event where the physical works of over 40 of those artists were presented, there was a certain amount of mutual trust and respect that was crucial to the exhibition being a success. And when I use the term success, I mean success as in strengthening a human support network which is immeasurable by capitalist standards. Success for this event was realized by providing a platform for artists to connect to one another and share their work with the public without imposing an external lens onto their vision. It was an incredibly unique exhibition and it showed me that we do not have to cater to a market or institutional standard to create spaces for experiencing artwork.

In terms of an being an organizer, and what I learned from the experience as I move forward with my work, I learned to trust my gut, to be unapologetic in the approach, no matter how unconventional the format or approach may seem. We are in an extremely exciting time where the power of the ‘gatekeepers’ in the art world is crumbling, and if we support each other in holistic and long term ways as artists and peers, we can create the spaces we see lacking, we can form networks that will nourish our creative visions and can begin to let go of the western concept of toxic individualism which is so often supported by our popular culture and art markets, but which in reality is a myth and is unsustainable for us.
EMD: Any advice on working collaboratively?

First; come humble, let go of the ego. Give more than you take from a collaboration, this sets up a very strong holistic approach to idea sharing and true collaboration. Always give credit to those who are supporting you, no matter how little or how greatly they inform the work. There is so much more strength in acknowledging support, inspiration and the communities who inform the work, and this will strengthen your character immeasurably versus simply taking full credit and perpetuating a toxic myth of individualism. We do nothing alone, life is a collaboration and it is a very strong component to thriving as a human being. Be accountable for your work and learning process as you grow into yourself as an individual and a member of multiple communities. We will always mess up, and that is where we grow and learn from, be ready to fail and find folx who are willing to hold you through that failure and whom you feel ready to do the same for. Remain open for change; in my experiences of multiple collaborations with people from around the world, I am amazed how different each human sees everything, from the way a line of text is interpreted, to the way a sound is felt; each person comes with their own living memories and ancestral history of trauma and/or euphoria around every detail they engage. Remember this and be kind and open to this as collaboration unfolds, be open to see the world in a new way, and even if you don’t align with it, find the lesson in the different approach and grow from there. Be tender with the process, with yourself and with your collaborators, and always allow for failure and growth.

The Broken Boxes show at Form and Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Broken Boxes show at Form and Concept in Santa Fe, NM

EMD: What has been the most provocative question you’ve heard from your children?
In my home we have no separation from art and work, from art and life, from work and life; it is all a continuum. My partner Cannupa Hanska Luger is an artist as well, and we both work from home with our children present and involved in all we do as much as possible, so they see the process of living, creating and working as a holistic practice. One question my older son ‘io Kahoku (6) asked me recently (which was not provocative necessarily, but brought up a good conversation) was ‘why do we did not go to jobs all day?’. I laughed so hard, because there is no on/off switch for the work I do, or my partner’s. Much of the work we both do is without direct monetary pay, but feeds into a larger web which supports the work being compensated in a more abstract and long term manner. This question made me think a lot about how our western culture has set us up to do less for each other and for what we love if we are not receiving a direct monetary payment, or wealth improvement (western success standard) attached to it.

I believe our society’s structure of capitalism is designed to be unsustainable and so if we can instead work towards success in measure of commitment to communities we care about and who care about us, we cannot fail and we will always be successful and sustainable. I tried to break this down to my son in words, but I realize that he is living the answer he seeks, and as he grows older he will see that we are formatting a decolonized approach to life, through actively practicing respect and community building as our goal. We will continue to support this holistic way of being and trusting which I feel will be crucial for humanity to remember as critical for survival as we come into our future generations.

¹Installation view of Between the Waters (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 9, 2018-). From left to right: Torkwase Dyson, Ramond (Water Table), 2017; Demian DinéYazhi’, Rez Dog, Rez Dirt, 2013; Demian DinéYazhi’, BURYING WHITE SUPREMACY, 2018. Photograph by Ron Amstutz.

Eva Mayhabal Davis is arts content editor at Culturework.