Emily Johnson/Catalyst: Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter

On July 23rd at 7 pm join a candle-lit Kinstilatory gathering and procession beginning in the Amphitheater at Abrons Arts Center at 466 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manahatta, Lenapehoking. Artists and activists Anaïs Duplan, Demian DinéYazhi´, Jasmin Sanchez, Joseph M. Pierce join Emily Johnson and Karyn Recollet to wield love, provocations, and poetry for healthy and Indigenous and Black centered futures, with sonic support from Tatiana Benally and an opening by Joe Whittle. From here, we will walk to East River Park in a procession of care and protection, to honor and give gratitude to the 1,000 trees that will be killed when the park is destroyed in September.

Community Agreements:
Please wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance at all times.
Please bring a candle and matches.


A message from Emily Johnson and Karyn Recollet:

We have been thinking alongside fire and trees. We invite you to join this Kinstillatory candle-lit procession of care in the form of protection for one another and our relations.

We are gathering in solidarity with Black Lives Matter against the ecocide that continues to harm Black and Indigenous life and lifeways in the midst of this uprising; to grieve the thousands of lives, neighbors and loved ones lost to COVID19; and to gather in this moment against colonizers – in protection of land, trees, and the wellness of our communities – both human and more than human.

The occupying city of New York is going to kill 1,000 trees that live on the Lower East Side of Mannahatta as it destroys East River Park for a flood protection plan that does not in fact address resiliency and that the community is against. Wherever you live you know this story of destruction.

We will gather to honor these trees and then walk to East River Park in a procession of protective relation, to extend as much gratitude and care as we can while they are still with us.

At a distance from one another that respects well-being, our singular lit candles orient us toward a greater gathering of more-than-human kinships. We invite you into relationship with the forces of fire as wielding change, disruption, and possible destructive ruptures and as such, social distancing and mask wearing becomes a practice in ethical relationality with our more-than-human kin’s expansivity.

Another world is possible, the shapes of our gatherings transfigure and transform to fall into each other — trees and fire require a different set of practices that we are listening for and embodying.

Please join us. In love and solidarity,
Emily and Karyn


Emily Johnson, originally from Alaska, is an artist who makes body-based work and the artistic director of her performance company, Emily Johnson/Catalyst. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based on the Lower East Side of Manahatta in Lenapehoking. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty, and well-being. Her dances function as portals and installations, engaging audiences within and through space, time, and environment – interacting with a place’s architecture, people, land, history, and role in community. Emily is a co-compiler of the document, Creating New Futures: Guidelines toward Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts, is developing a Global First Nations Performance Network with colleagues Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Ronee Penoi, Lori Pourier, Vallejo Ganter; and has hosted ceremonial fires, in partnership with Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side, since 2017.

Karyn Recollet Ph.D. is an Assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is an urban Cree scholar/ writer currently living in the Williams Treaty territory, and teaching in the Dish with One Spoon treaty territory. Recollet explores celestial land pedagogies as ‘kinstillatory’ in her work – expressing an understanding of land pedagogy that exceeds the terrestrial. Recollet thinks alongside dance making practices, Hip hop, and visual/digital art as they relate to forms of Indigenous futurities and relational practices of being.  Recollet co-writes with dance choreographers and artists engaged in other mediums to expand upon methodologies that consider land relationships and kinship making practices that are going to take us into the future.

Anaïs Duplan is the author of a collection of essays, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020). He is the founding curator of the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for artists of color in Iowa City.

Demian DinéYazhi´ is an Indigenous Diné transdisciplinary artist, poet, and curator born to the clans Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá and Tódích’íí’nii. They live and work in a post-post-apocalyptic world unafraid to fail.

Jasmin Sanchez is a lifelong NYCHA resident, a product of the NYC public school system, housing organizer, a long-time youth advocate, and a results-driven community activist. Over the last couple of years, Jasmin has been involved in campaigns for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and is currently the NYCHA Field Organizer on her re-election Campaign.

Joe Whittle is a freelance photographer and writer. He is a tribal member of the Delaware Nation of Oklahoma and the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, a direct descendant of Lenape Matriarchs Ahkechelungunaqua and Mekinges and Lenape Chiefs Netawatwees, White Eyes and Kikthewenund.

Joseph M. Pierce is Associate Professor at Stony Brook University. He is the author of the Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press 2019), and is co-curator with SJ Norman (Koori, Wiradjuri descent) of the Indigenous-led gathering Knowledge of Wounds. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Tatiana Benally hails from the Diné Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico. She lives in New York City as a working-class student of anti-colonialist practice, resiliency, and movement. When she’s not freelancing as a media artist, she’s helping to organize and facilitate events with American Indian Community House, making interdisciplinary art and music, curating the meme page Asdzaaproletariat, frequenting a Diné communist reading group, DJ’ing Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter, and much more.