Emotional Practices

Halima Haruna (Nigeria/U.S.) and Imani Robinson (U.K) met during their time at the Centre for Research Architecture where they began collaborating and developed some initial thoughts at Sonic Acts Academy in Amsterdam where they presented work as part of Logistical Nightmares in 2018.

They are both live art practitioners and interdisciplinary writers, researchers and artists drawing from black and queer studies, decolonial environmentalism, visual cultures and research architecture as sites/sights/cites from which to develop live performances and digital provocations.

Halima Haruna's personal website: halimaharuna.com
Imani Robinson's personal website:

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Ditto + Ditto Take A Trip To Port Authority
Halima Haruna and Imani Robinson

Brand, Dionne (2001) A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes To Belonging cited in Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha (2008) “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage” in GLQ, 14:2-3, p. 191

Eribo, Eze Imade & Phillips, Rasheeda (2016) “Slave Ships: Human Commodities, Floating Dungeons and Chimeral Manifestations” in The Funambulist 5: May/June

Glave, Thomas (2005) Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent cited by Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha (2008) “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage” in GLQ, 14:2-3, p. 191

Harney, Stefano & Moten, Fred (2013) The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study New York: Minor Compositions

McKittrick, Katherine (2014) “Mathematics: Black Life” in TBS, 44:2, p. 16-28

Sharpe, Christina (2016) In the Wake: On Blackness and Being Durham: Duke University Press

Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha (2008) “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage” in GLQ, 14:2-3, p. 191-215

‘Where did logistics get this ambition to connect bodies, objects, affects, information, without subjects, without the formality of subjects, as if it could reign sovereign over the informal, the concrete and generative indeterminacy of material life? The truth is, modern logistics was born that way. Or more precisely it was born in resistance to, given as the acquisition of, this ambition, this desire and this practice of the informal. Modern logistics is founded with the first great movement of commodities, the ones that could speak. It was founded in the Atlantic slave trade, founded against the Atlantic slave. Breaking from the plundering accumulation of armies to the primitive accumulation of capital, modern logistics was marked, branded, seared with the transportation of the commodity labor that was not, and ever after would not be, no matter who was in that hold or containerized in that ship. [...] logistics was always the transport of slavery, not ‘free’ labor. Logistics remains, as ever, the transport of objects that is held in the movement of things. And the transport of things remains, as ever, logistics’ unrealizable ambition.’  [14]

___  ‘An image, like many other images, requires our emotive interaction and response of and to it to invoke empathy. Skin in too close proximity, hard metal handcuffs, chains, bondage tools, slicing strips away and eating into flesh, the harsh cradling of the ship by the sea turning floor boards into sanding devices, grinding away the flesh from black elbows, hips and knees till white bones are seen, of eventually losing singular identities, merging into large cargoes, shackled in pairs, transported, marked, branded, sold... ultimate expressions of a final delineation of self- ownership’.   [15]

___  I am that cargo / And I / Is the cargo / And I was am is still / I was am is and / Cargo still  [16]

___  ‘And so it is we remain in the hold, in the break, as if entering again and again the broken world, to trace the visionary company and join it. This contrapuntal island, where we are marooned in search of marronage, where we linger in stateless emergency, in our our lysed cell and held dislocation, our blown standpoint and lyred chapel, in (the) study of our sea-born variance, sent by its prehistory into arrivance without arrival, as a poetics of lore, of abnormal articulation, where the relation between joint and flesh is the folded distance of a musical moment that is emphatically, palpably imperceptible and, therefore, difficult to describe.’ [17]


Imani Robinson & Halima Haruna


___  ‘Water is the first thing in my imagination. [...] All beginning in water, all ending in water. Turquoise, aquamarine, deep green, deep blue, ink blue, navy, blue-black cerulean water. . . .[...] Water is the first thing in my memory. [1]  

___  ‘I, and my lesbian sisters and gay brothers . . . are not a new fashion. . . . We return to the sea and the shores and once upon a time, which transposes into this time, which it always was. . . . the past simultaneously forever embedded in the present, in the pain and inevitable horrors confronted by conscientious unblinking memory, in the tragedies and occasional triumphs of history always raveled by so much needless suffering, by the unbearable human misery that we must not, for our collective sakes and the continued growth of this body we call “humanity,” ever be denied. [2]

___  ‘Never being on the right side of the Atlantic is an unsettled feeling, the feeling of a thing that unsettles with others. It’s a feeling, if you ride with it, that produces a certain distance from the settled, from those who determine themselves in space and time, who locate themselves in a determined history. To have been shipped is to have been moved by others, with others. It is to feel at home with the homeless, at ease with the fugitive, at peace with the pursued, at rest with the ones who consent not to be one. Outlawed, interdicted, intimate things of the hold, containerized contagion, logistics externalises logic itself to reach you, but this is not enough to get at the social logics, the social poesis, running through logisticality. [3]

___  ‘How would you recognize the antiphonal accompaniment to gratuitous violence – the sound that can be heard as if it were in response to that violence, the sound that must be heard as that to which such violence responds? [4]

Moten & Harney, The Undercommons, p.97

Moten & Harney,
The Undercommons, p.95-6

___  ‘The most universal definition of the slave is a stranger’.  [10]

___  MATI. SHIPMATE. ‘She who survived the middle passage with me’  [11]

___  ‘Queer not in the sense of a “gay” or same-sex loving identity waiting to be excavated from the ocean floor but as a praxis of resistance. Queer in the sense of marking disruption to the violence of normative order and powerfully so: connecting in ways that commodified flesh was never supposed to, loving your own kind when your kind was supposed to cease to exist, forging interpersonal connections that counteract imperial desires for Africans’ living deaths. [...] Perhaps, as Brand writes, black queers really have no ancestry except the black water.’ [12] (“We have no ancestry except the black water and the Door of No Return”’  [13]

___  Ditto + Ditto Take a Trip To Port Authority.

Glave, Words to Our Now cited by Tinsley

Brand,A Map to the Door of No Return cited by Tinsley

Have you been to the Slavery Museum? Who among you have ever been to the Middle Passage? Who has been confronted with the water? Have you heard the retching? Sharpe says ‘How does one account for surviving the ship when the ship and the un/survival repeat?’ How do we reckon with this re/membering? [5]

___  ‘[...] vio- lence and blackness is (always already and only) cast inside the mathematics of unlivingness (data/scientifically proven/certified violation/asterisk) where black comes to be (a bit). Indeed, if blackness originates and emerges in violence and death, black futures are foreclosed by the dead and dying asterisks. And if the dead and dying are the archival and asterisked cosmogonies of blackness, within our present system of knowledge-a system, [...] where the subhuman is invited to become human on terms that require anti- black sentiment - scraps and bits of black Iife and death and narrative are guaranteed to move toward, to progress into, unliving- ness and anti-blackness.’ [6]

___  ‘[...]think the violence of transatlantic slavery as a numerical moment through which anti-blackness was engendered and came to underwrite post-slave emancipation promises, [...] The post-slave system, its emancipatory terms, guarantees and profits from and repeats anti-black violence.’ [7]

___  ‘[...] dwell on the archival display of the violated body, the corpse, the death sentences, the economic inventories of cargo, the whip as the tool that writes blackness into existence. How might we take this evidence and venture toward another mode of human being - so that when we encounter the lists, the ledgers, the commodities of slavery, we notice that our collective unbearable past, which is unrepresentable except for the archival mechanics that usher in blackness vis-a-vis violence, is about something else altogether.’ How does one account for surviving the future when the zong repeats?  [8]

___  ‘Hapticality, the capacity to feel though others, for others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you, this feel of the shipped is not regulated, at least not successfully, by a state, a religion, a people, an empire, a piece of land, a totem. Or perhaps we could say these are now recomposed in the wake of the shipped. [...]  Refused these things, we first refuse them, in the contained, amongst the contained, lying together in the ship, the boxcar, the prison, the hostel. Skin, against epidermalisation, senses touching. Thrown together touching each other we were denied all sentiment, denied all the things that were supposed to produce sentiment, family, nation, language, religion, place, home. Though forced to touch and be touched, to sense and be sensed in that space of no space, though refused sentiment, history and home, we feel (for) each other.’  [9]


Moten& Harney, The Undercommons, p.94

Courtesy of Imani Robinson, “Still Life”

Eribo& Phillips, Slave Ships, p.5-6

Moten& Harney, The Undercommons, p.92

Brand,Map to the Door of No Return, p.61

Tinsley,Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic, p.199

Tinsley,Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic, p.192

Hartman,Lose Your Mother, p.5

Moten& Harney, The Undercommons, p.98

McKittrick, Mathematics of Black Life, p.18

McKittrick, Mathematics of Black Life, p.22

McKittrick, Mathematics of Black Life, p.20

Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, p.38