at land’s edge is an autonomous pedagogical platform based in East and South Los Angeles that nurtures the voices of cultural producers who are committed to social transformation. We understand pedagogy as not only a method of education, but as a critical space where the processes of teaching and learning, knowledge and action, and self and community are reflexive, interwoven, and oriented toward the liberatory possibilities of a just and democratic world.
As an autonomous platform, we are not tied to any institution, nor are we supported or funded by any patron, nor do we function according to a non-profit model. Our work is 100% volunteer. We are committed to remaining uncompromised in our freedom and our vision.
At the center of our practice are people of color, immigrants, the poor, the undocumented, and the indigenous. Together, we build space for shared learning and develop networks for radical political imagination and solidarity. We also create intergenerational, cross-movement, and interdisciplinary sites, where cultural production meets politics and grassroots engagement. We understand these terms of “cultural production,” “politics” and “grassroots engagement” as open-ended, shifting, and rooted in lived experience. Our programs encourage reciprocal exchange among all participants and include research fellowships, public lectures, seminars, workshops, mentorship and skill-sharing structures, publications, and exhibitions.
at land’s edge is based in the rich cultural milieus of East and South Los Angeles where Black and Brown peoples have fierce, radical, loving, and vibrant cultures of resistance in the midst of ongoing histories of political and economic disenfranchisement. We move through our city with great intention, seeing it as a site of learning and as a place where we must stand in solidarity with community struggles against exploitation and marginalization.
We believe that the current political climate in Los Angeles requires all cultural producers to take a stand. Across East and South Los Angeles, the displacement of poor people of color is ushered through notions of “art” and “culture” and intertwined with speculative development. In recent anti-gentrification struggles in Los Angeles and beyond, such processes have been termed “artwashing.” at land’s edge believes that artwashing or any version of “art” and “culture” that participates in the displacement of poor people of color is embedded in the deep-seated ideologies of white supremacy and class-based hierarchies. Further, it proposes a definition of “art” and “culture” that is antithetical to the transformative creative and solidary power we believe cultural producers can manifest.
Through community building and alternative structures for mutual learning, we hope to create different possibilities for cultural production in Los Angeles. We delink cultural production from the current cultural institutions and markets that dominate the field. We also turn away from the rarified “alternative” art worlds of Los Angeles that perpetuate the depoliticization of art, the appropriation of difference, and the values of profit. We turn toward a continually evolving pedagogical practice, one where the voices of cultural producers who are committed to unravelling the expansive nuance and complexity of our contemporary world can be cultivated. We hope to serve as a model for the future and that what we are doing will be reproducible.
We of at land’s edge have been wounded by the white supremacy that unabatedly continues in cultural and educational institutions. Each of our wounds is different, inflected by our specific experiences and subject positions, yet we share deep pain and deep outrage born of these wounds. at land’s edge is an attempt to heal these wounds while we fight against such violence through building, nurturing, teaching, learning, loving, and thriving in a context that is wholly self-determined.
at land’s edge nurtures space for creativity, imagination, and critical consciousness. We come from communities ravaged by the violence of capitalism, militarism, racism, and patriarchy. We inherit the political histories of slavery, colonialism, and genocide, and we believe that such histories are not only of the past, but continue to exist as palpable experiences in our present. We equally inherit the political histories of creative resistance movements people built in order to flourish and fight for justice despite the ravages they suffered; we look to these histories to move into our future consciously and accountably.
If capitalist accumulation is premised on the dispossession of the poor and the appropriation of their resources, then we understand that any accurate conception of “culture” must begin from sites of dispossession and the structures they produce. Dispossession can be external in terms of the violent and repressive forces of settler colonialism, apartheid, gentrification, and racism. Such processes can also operate on an internal register that distorts or alters an individual’s thoughts, self-perception, and worldview. Internal dispossession often occurs through the use of or implementation of “culture” in the forms of education, art, and media. at land’s edge works to dismantle all understandings and practices of “culture” that perpetuate imperialist ideology and steal us from ourselves and our communities.
As cultural producers, we understand that the production of culture is also a production of knowledge. at land’s edge is invested in seeking and cultivating forms of knowledge that lie beyond Eurocentric assumptions of what knowledge comprises, who can produce it, and where it can be found. We privilege forms of knowledge that exist in bodies Eurocentrism has routinely excluded or has altogether rejected. We center the cosmologies that precede and exceed Western thought and are rooted in long histories of struggle and self-determination.
At the heart of at land’s edge is a combined practice of learning and unlearning. We understand that the work of decolonization is ongoing. We strive to undo the knotted and mangled threads Western thought has sewn, taking ourselves apart at the seams over and over again in the dialectical and dialogical process of reconfiguring new and different possibilities for ourselves and our communities.