Letters to the Land: Eating with Gratitude – with mónica teresa ortiz

[a 4-week online program; Mondays starting 3/8, 6-8pm CST]

A Micronesian “stick chart,” used by Majõl mariners to understand and map the Pacific Ocean. (from the Decolonial Atlas, photo by Walter Meayers Edwards.)

Workshop Description:

Marginalized communities have developed strategies to survive societal upheavals as well  as enact social change, and one of those methods employed is that of written communication. Letters  can be used to establish intimacy between humans through the creation of conversations and explorations of our relationship to non-human life, land, and water. When we consider our relationships  to land, water, and nonhuman beings, we must also consider the reciprocal possibilities of nourishment,  as a way to not just have an extractive relationship to land, water, and nonhuman beings. Capitalism views these only as resources, a product to be mined, consumed, taken, or, as Alexis Pauline Gumbs says in Dub: “eat[en] without gratitude.” As a practice, we can change that perspective, and think about eating  not just as feeding, or as food or consumption but as an expression of grace and care. Epistolary form allows us the space for this movement and can act as a counter against disposability and waste. 

In Tiffany Lethabo King’s book The Black Shoals, Lethabo King uses geological formation of a shoal as  both a metaphor and a critique. This methodology reveals a relation to land and water, and the space in  between both. Scholars such as Heather Davis, who, in an essay titled “Blue, Bling: On Extractivism,”  explores intimate connections between extractivism and visuals, drawing from poet Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. The anti-colonial work of poets/scholars like Saidiya Hartman, Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, and  Dionne Brand navigate links between human and non-human life and engage in mapping physical and  emotional topographies. Doris Salcedo use installation to interrupt space and make work addressing  both the personal and political.  

In this workshop, we use writing to channel and develop narrative and discuss ways in which we can translate our relationship to our spatial environment through an expression that is informative and  observational and establish a connection between writer and receiver, between human and nonhuman; we will consider questions about how racial-colonial capitalism, geopolitics, and biopower shape the ways in which we relate to resources and the manner which it impacts us. This workshop is discussion  based, with readings (pdfs) and prompts provided. The intention of this four week workshop is to create  a space in which we can think together as a collective and the objective is to encounter an old form of  writing outside a capitalistic mindset and consider the implications of empire and anticipatory grief on  our everyday lives, while focusing on moving with gratitude towards a different future. 


Combining elements of the architectural and the memorial, mónica teresa ortiz connects  landscapes and burials not to hold onto the past, but so that through memory and haunting, poetics  travel beyond our individual experience of them to discover instead, a collective one. They explore the  relationships between necropolitics, geopolitics, and history. Born and raised in Texas, ortiz is the author  of muted blood & autobiography of a semiromantic anarchist.





Liminal Lab is committed to providing a source of income for our collaborators and facilitators in an increasingly precarious time for culture workers and educators. However, no one will ever be turned away for lack of fundsWe ask that those who can pay the suggested price, and/or help cover the cost of scholarship slots in each of our programs by sponsoring other participants. 

  • Compare the below to the cost for a similar accredited workshop in a university setting (where most of the $$$ goes to institutional bloat):  $1000  — we show you this so we can begin to think about wtf is happening in our institutions, where both students and faculty get the short end of the stick.
  • At a standard “Market Rate,” at arts orgs: $300*
  • Recommended Sliding Scale: $30-50/session → $120-200 for the series
  • Precarity Pricing: $10-20/session
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