September 4, 2020
We are living in disturbing times. While the current economic, social, biological, and political precarity of the moment is not new; and visible and pervasive violent white supremacy has been the architecture of this nation since its founding, we are facing the darkness of our present juncture with unclouded eyes.

The timing of this project is urgent in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprising. It arrives at this critical moment, shaped by conjuncted crises, with a long-term vision for creating a sustained conversation about race and a visible and accessible trace for the histories (and futures) that have informed who we are and the work that we do.

The Black Lives Matter Uprising of 2020 is born of a long legacy of brave resistance but has been fostered specifically in this moment by the outrage of yet another, and another, and another brutal killing of a Black person at the hands of the police. Experiencing a deadly pandemic under murderous capitalism, racism, and state violence, all of which disproportionately affect Black communities, what we have always known to be a condition of our reality is that we are the most expendable. Fighting against this reality, We Listen Nearby is an invitation, a provocation, an act: of care, collectivity, and becoming.

Centering the relationship between speaking and listening by interrogating the dual power to name or be silent, we will talk to each other. Over the phone, through sound and storytelling, this project considers genealogies and how we might conceptualize cultural heritages that transgress dogmatic definitions and borderlines and resists false singularities. Compelled by the multi-faceted work of Trinh T. Minh-ha, and in response to the virulent anti-Asian racism of the pandemic crisis and the urgency of the BLM uprising, We Listen Nearby brings together an intergenerational group of artists, activists, writers, and scholars to articulate the power and problematics of legacy and to think through the impact of our histories as migrants, immigrants, refugees, strangers, and friends and contend with the conditions of entangled biologized, enculturated racial politics.

The project pivots around overlapping pairs and trios of speakers and listeners who will be in conversation with each other, until a collective constellation of voices interlock and interweave to hold a mirror up to itself. We Listen Nearby offers the voice as testimony and material which visualizes sound, language as survival, and listening as a potential moment of collective transition and transformation. When we can’t be together physically, let’s allow our voices and our listening to be an intimate point of contact: witness to our collective survival.

We Listen Nearby exists as an online project, launching on September 4, and marks the culmination of Hồng-Ân Trương's 2019-2020 Capp Street Project Artist-in-Residence. The first iteration of We Listen Nearby features a conversation between Latipa (née Michelle Dizon) & Gina Osterloh. Followed by conversations between denisse andrade & Betty Yu; Michelle Phương Ting & Kristiana Chan; Việt Lê, Bruce Yonemoto & Đỉnh Q. Lê.

Hồng-Ân Trương (b. 1976, Gainesville, FL) lives and works in Durham, North Carolina, where she is an Associate Professor of Art and Director of Graduate Studies in the MFA Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This project is made possible thanks to generous support from Eleanor and Francis Shen.

This is the final project in our year-long season dedicated to the questions posed by the work of Trinh T. Minh-ha and how they address art, culture, and society today. This project was originally accompanied by a three-day convening, which was no longer possible due to shelter-in-place restrictions necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hồng-Ân Trương is the 2019-2020 Capp Street Project Artist-in-Residence.

We Listen Nearby, an online project by 2019-2020 Capp Street Artist-in-Residence Hồng-Ân Trương.

Visit the website here.

Hồng-Ân Trương, On minor histories and the horrifying recognition of the swift work of time, 2016; installation view, Nhà Sàn, Ha Nội, Việt Nam; Courtesy of the artist.
Hồng-Ân Trương, On minor histories and the horrifying recognition of the swift work of time, 2016; installation view, Nhà Sàn, Ha Nội, Việt Nam; Courtesy of the artist.