ASSEMBLIES Spring 2020: Pitch Meeting

Free with RSVP

Come learn about the proposed ASSEMBLIES for the third term of the ASSEMBLIES program. Each presenters will have 5 minutes to propose an idea for an ASSEMBLY they would like to lead.

Learn more about the different groups which are being proposed and will be presenting below.


An ASSEMBLY is a community-led learning group that forms around a theme, practice, project or experiment. For a period of three months, NAVEL provides each Assembly with space, group facilitation training, support and resources—including access to our equipment, peer network, and micro-grant funding. Learn more here.

Spring 2020 Schedule

Open Call Deadline: Feb 5, 2020 by 11:59PM
Pitch Meeting / Proposals Presentations: Monday, February 10, 2020 from 7-10PM
Final Groups Announcement: March 1, 2020
Online Sign-up: March 1-March 15, 2020

Term Dates: March 15-June 15, 2020
ASSEMBLIES Spring 2020 public final presentation: June 22, 2020 from 7-10PM

Image of Nina Sarnelle presenting Touch-Base for ASSEMBLIES Fall 2019

ASSEMBLIES Spring 2020 Proposals

Art History for Artists (and Everyone Else)
Organized by Daniel Spaulding

This Assembly will be structured as a reading/discussion group. The focus will be on collective discussion of paradigmatic art historical texts with participants who have an investment in art, but who don’t necessarily have a deep academic background in the field of art history. I particularly would like to involve practicing artists. The reading list will include foundational texts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as more recent interventions. These readings will represent methodologies such as formalism, iconology, the social history of art, feminist art history, critical race art history, and postcolonial / decolonial approaches. In effect, this Assembly will function in a way analogous to an art history methods seminar, but with an emphasis on how we can apply art historical methodology directly to our everyday work as cultural producers and engaged thinkers.

The main impetus for the group is the discussion itself. Essentially, I would like to move art historical pedagogy out of the confines of the academy in order to radicalize its potential. At the first meaning I plan on discussing possible actionable outcomes with participants, which might include follow-up projects such as a symposium or even an exhibition.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: daniel.m.spaulding[at]gmail[dot]com

Building a Radicalized Dead Drop Network (Extension)
Organized by Renée Reizman

This group is building a low-tech, smartphone compatible resource for Los Angeles’ homeless residents. A collaboration with local nonprofits across the Eastside, Westside, and Sepulveda Basin, this tool aggregates the numerous, but disconnected, services that take place across the city. People will easily find free meals, showers, clothing, physical and mental health services, legal aid, job placement assistance, veteran services, child and pet care, and more. It will also have an original newsletter, music, or artwork from other homeless residents and NAVEL community members. ASSEMBLIES participants might do community engagement, research for our database, or develop the tool’s technology infrastructure.

This is a concrete project that aims to release a prototype by the end of Q3. It is, however, an ambitious task and may need more time. We want people who are excited to meet our community partners face-to-face, are eager to discover and share services, and are passionate activists for housing justice.

Watch the presentation here.

To Queer Death
Organized by Ari Simon-ofsky

The act of dying is the most certain experience had by all living beings. But publicly contemplating death and planning around death remain a generally-held social taboo. And while large cultural shifts towards inclusivity, intersectionality, and deeper interrogation are becoming more adopted in the mainstream, end-of-life practices and death rituals are still predominantly dictated by the values of powerful institutions such as major religious organizations, privatized medical facilities, and government agencies. As a deeply personal, deeply communal, deeply mystical experience, death deserves to be queered.

Goals are to cultivate ideas for making death ritual more meaningful, equitable, and sustainable, explore the intersection of end-of-life and privilege, and come into closer relationship to end-of-life practices (and therefore life itself). Through convenings and research, one desirable outcome is to craft an accessible, replicable workshop to premiere at Reimagine NYC in June 2020.

Watch the presentation here.
Sign Up

Theorizations of Power
Organized by Brandon A Joyce

This assembly pushes the theorization of power beyond its paradigmatic forms: power as domination, power as embodied in the State, or power in the measurably empirical terms preferred by the social sciences. In fact, that power will no longer be in any strict sense the object of study, but a framework for critically and dynamically understanding the social. We’ll pull from thinkers who explicitly theorize about power— Foucault, De Jouvenel, Michael Mann (likely a guest speaker), Steven Lukes, Gerhard Lenski, Hannah Arendt, James C. Scott— as well as translate nearly everything else we can get our hands on into commensurably dynamic terms.

The purpose of the group is to bring together several loose strands of thought on power into a single, hopefully coherent braid and bibliography.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: brandonjoyce[at]gmail[dot]com

Reenchanting Healing
Organized by Laura Paul

This assembly will generate a space to experience the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual parts of the self not as separate, but as animistic whole. It will be an invitation to understand our bodies beyond the mechanisms of function. By gathering varied perspectives on therapeutic and restorative practices, we will investigate that which does not compartmentalize suffering through the burden of individualism. As an experiment with how connection, thought, and spirit can heal, we will reenchant what is possible in arts and community-focused spaces instead of the quarantine of established office spaces and the skinny definition of corporatized medicine.

Our activities will focus on collectively reimagining antidotes to the crisis and collapse of the for-profit medical system currently operating in the U.S. We will reach into the historical past and attempt to communicate with traditional healing practices that developed outside of the specter of objectivity.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: lauranpaul[at]gmail[dot]com

Workshopping Work Beyond Capitalism
Organized by Emaline Friedman & Colombene Gorton

Workers are becoming more critical of capitalism, recognizing how it foments social inequality and environmental degradation. So formulated, these problems suggest an immediate connection between individual purpose and care for humanity and the planet. Frustration, anger, and despair toward work have historically lead to mass actions demanding more rights and better conditions for workers. These actions continue in new loci of industrial production (e.g. outside of North America and Europe).

But what happens to this awareness, and worker discontents, in the world’s wealthiest nations, where efforts at collectivizing were first met with anti-union actions and then with a systematic cultural separation of laborer’s bodies and minds? Our hunch is that the ongoing traditions of organizing, cooperative development, and democratic governance have lots to teach us. But what do they entail in the present? How do we enact them? That’s what we want to explore via the design and implementation of a new kind of “work skills” workshop.
Screen reader support enabled.

This assembly is a continuation of the Q2 group “The Future of Labor” where we explored our work experiences from the trivial, to the absurd, to the profound. This quarter we seek to build momentum from this exploration by formalizing meaningful ways of addressing our ideal work-lives. The aim is to produce a workshop or series of workshops to source and share about alternatives to capitalist “business as usual”. These may include connecting with emerging social organisms, studying governance processes, and embodying cultural practices that build the solidarity so foreign to us within the current system.

Watch the presentation here.
Sign Up

New Matterealities
Organized by Alice Yuan Zhang

Our species has always taken the material world for granted, depending on it for safety, sustenance, and meaning. Just as climate crisis unravels this relationship, we find ourselves in a digital zeitgeist, increasingly inhabiting ‘material-less’, representational environments. In this ASSEMBLY, we will juxtapose the two phenomena, using accessible digital reality tools to recreate, distort, eliminate, or replace various ‘material’ from our daily lives. Along the way, we’ll discuss their value and reflect on our current and potential future relationship to them, with the intention to clarify what we really need in order to lead sustainable, meaningful lives.

Current plan is three fold:

  1. Begin with light readings (e.g., metaphysics) and discussion to sharpen our definition of ‘material’;
  2. Get hands-on with a range of XR technologies: 3D capture using an iPhone, 3D modeling, augmented reality, virtual reality, and projection;
  3. Host a pop-up exhibition in which we showcase the various digital-real material we have created throughout the ASSEMBLY enriched by a brief analysis on each. Format could be in-person/online.

Watch the presentation here.
Sign Up

unstacking the web ep 1: the meme
Organized by davíd padrón

in the blink of an eye, a handful of companies have extracted vast wealth and control by commodifying human experience and concentrating it into monopolies that would make robber barons blush. the hidden costs of their ‘free’ and ‘convenient’ products become more clear every day and reveal us “users” as tech’s most vital resource: we forfeit our data, privacy and attention so our lives can be used to train the algorithms that perpetuate their indifferent and inequitable influence.

in order to ‘unstack’ the systems that create tech dominance we need alternatives, but we also need to know what’s at stake when we opt-in and why choosing different matters. like an organic food movement for the web, ‘unstacking the web’ seeks to find the language (and the meme(((s))) that can help us demand a healthier web.

the project here is bringing to consciousness the costs and impacts of big tech by creating a language/message that can help us make informed choices about who (and how) our digital lives are handled.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: meta[at]d3p0[dot]com

Collective Selve[s]-Actualization through Collaborative Movement, Play-making and Alternative Archive
Organized by Chelsea Zeffiro

I propose to facilitate a group project which studies and reimagines new archetypes–through exchange, movement exploration, citation and archiving. The proposal is to play and experiment with alternative/ulterior possibilities of collective storytelling practices, to build an alternative archive (potentially in the form of a score, a play and/or zine/guide/artist book).
Sessions will explore the following:

  • collectively breaking down and layering archetypal imagings
  • journaling and citation practice – weaving self-and-other
  • improvisational movement & sounding practices which serve as a way to encounter: character, self and each other (as well as media, public figures, current events, historical events, other.

The goal is to create a fluid, memoir-based collective weaving practice through experimental, devised, and improvisational processes which might present ulterior possibilities for re-imagining the archive, performativity, and what it is to be human – allowing us to get closer to an existence which is in flux.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: chelsea.zeffiro[at]gmail[dot]com

Pietra: an active introduction on how to change the world through art
Organized by Jordan Service and Shira Service

Pietra is an organization that creates a platform for ethical tech, big data, and AI. Pietra provides peer based certifications, and peer based valuation, based on group participation of collective action. This assembly connects concepts found in art, with computing, programming, and AI. As well as addressing issues with current tech platforms around representation, legal issues, and design. The group will develop a peer certification process for: Symbolic Systems 001:: Ai, Programming, and Machine Learning Concepts and Ethics

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: JordanService[at]gmail[dot]com

Organized by Adriana Widdoes & Emma Kemp (Which Witch)

Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 (1998) chronicles the kidnapping and subsequent romance of Layla (Christina Ricci) by Billy Budd (Gallo). Using a participatory model of research as our guiding principle, we propose a critical re-imagining of Gallo’s cult classic film through a series of improvisational workshops and performances staged as casting calls. We aim to collectively investigate popular narratives of female desire and the male gaze beyond a hetero-typical framework. What could it look like to queer normative romantic tropes? What would Layla say if she could talk back to the camera? We invite all interested individuals to audition. No acting experience necessary!

We seek to expand the character dimensions of “Layla.” Part method acting, part focus group, part therapy/gossip sesh, our intent is to gather community-sourced narratives that dig into various permeations of “female desire.” We plan to curate these narratives into a documentary print and/or video project published by Which Witch.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: whichwitchla[at]gmail[dot]com

Feature Extraction
Organized by Ulysses Pascal and Blaine O’Neill

Feature Extraction is a 3 month long series of workshops and discussion groups that will bring together artists and researchers engaged with machine-learning. Under the banner of “artificial intelligence,” machine-learning has become central to interlocking domains of political-economic control, including: predictive policing, financialization, ad-tech, social media, and logistics. Unlike the proprietary algorithms used in these applications, artistic uses of machine learning allow people to experience and engage with algorithms directly. In this series, we pair artistic uses of machine learning with scholarly research to explore the social repercussions of algorithmic governance under algorithmic capitalism.

Feature Extraction responds to a need in the Los Angeles community to foster understanding and literacy regarding machine learning. By connecting artist-practitioners and researchers who work with algorithms, the program will create a space to engage the public in understanding algorithms and their social repercussions.

Watch the presentation here.
Sign Up

Creativity Clinic-Tapping into your subconscious mind
Organized by Marina Kurikhina

Creativity Clinic is a research platform with workshops, talks and guest facilitators focused on accessing expanded states of consciousness through creative, expressive practices. This is a continuation of my current practice and is inspired by the successful results of my three years of research at the Esalen Institute.

This platform is about empowerment and connection to a deeper self through the creative process and personal growth modalities, including somatic awareness, gestalt, free flow movement, intuitive drawing and painting, non-dominant writing, meditation, shamanic practices as well as techniques used by various artists throughout history. Guest workshop leaders will include artists and practitioners from different modalities, such as art therapy, improvisation, writing, holistic psychology, and bodywork with the body-mind-spirit approach.

Creative expression is a communal experience that works with both personal and collective consciousness. It is capable of bypassing the rational mind to safely address and process trauma and loss, as well as integrate positive experiences. The creative process contacts different types of knowing and another type of intelligence. The Creative Clinic believes that creativity can help to overcome the isolation of the individualist society, address the social and environmental crises through shifting and operating within flow states. The creative clinic will work through different themes and learning how to navigate altered states. The primary mission of the clinic is personal empowerment, self-realization and healing. It will also explore topics offered by the group.

The purpose is to explore the depth of human potential through the creative process within community. My desirable outcome is to empower the participants through experiential, facilitated sessions, create a safe and fun space for deeper self-connection, explore together the wisdom of collective consciousness and how to navigate it, and to offer accessible tools to take home, share it further, and to apply in daily life.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: info[at]creativesubconscious[dot]org

Exploring sleep and dreams as a collective resource
Organized by Sara Suárez

Sleep and dreams are vital to human health, imagination, and experience, but they are hard to defend from bright screens, light/noise pollution, work schedules and other stressors. What roles do sleep/dreams play in shaping our society and relationships? How are new technologies changing our relationship to sleep? Can sleep/dreams themselves be technologies to improve our lifestyles and relationships? We will explore sleep/dream experience approaching it as a shared “natural resource” at risk of degradation (like water or land); seek ways to protect it, and imagine sustainable ways to use it to benefit human experience.

We will research the physiological functions of sleep/dreams, current trends in sleep-related technologies, and conceive ways to use sleep/dream experience for both individual and collective benefit. Practical goals include experimenting with group dream discussion and creative projects, and conceiving a way to share our research with others.

Watch the presentation here.
Sign Up

With as many distractions as possible: how to make the most of our cooperative visions
Organized by Irina Contreras

This is a creative research based group that will meet fully welcoming all of our life distractions as possible. That’s right: the business of our lives are welcome material for us to work with. How do we create sustainable “radical” realities while living under late capitalism? The group will focus on the creation of a multigenre Bibliography as well as individual research support brought together in experimental forms documenting and centering community building/systematic collapse. We will approach the systems piece of this work while deciding collectively what might be focused on. Guest speakers and facilitators included.

The purpose of the assembly is to document and create research looking at collectives and cooperatives in LA as well as exploring the places that feel “impossible.” Where might we find some assemblance of interdependence via the ways in which we feel tethered and constricted by our current life systems?

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: irinaambrizcontreras[at]gmail[dot]com

Identity Activism
Organized by Sophie Hardeman

As part of developing a body of theory for the thesis, we propose that cultural identity is a role. It is a role that we learn as part of our growing up and learning how to live in our current culture. Performance activities allow us to explore these roles and as well as conflicts that can arise between the different roles associated with our different cultural identities. We would like to invite nine performative artists who explore how we communicate, clothe and entertain ourselves in relation to existing social constructs such as beauty standards, sexuality, gender expression and identity in a day to day practice. These different muses will partake in ongoing talks about identity fluidity, which will be documented on film in a serie that will bring theatrical reality to a new audience.

In conjunction with Navel the research/theorize how to break free from social constructs and preconceived notions about appearance. How can we reframe our larger sense of relating and intimacy, of the body, of difference and connection? By inviting nine artists to collaborate on this project we propose different identities that will reflect on performative existence, thereby reflecting and opening up conversation about current society.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: hardemansophie[at]gmail[dot]com

Los Angeles Archipelago: Exercises in Psychogeographies & Communication Infrastructures in the Urban Jungle - Ver 0.2 (Deciphered or whatever)
Organized by Mieke McGowies

Exploring the psychogeographies of Los Angeles and a metaphysical investigation of LA’s urban jungle subcultures and suburban mirages.

  • First meetings: Group discussions on Los Angeles, some excerpts from recommended readings (open to further contributions by participants)
  • Middle meetings: meeting at various interesting locations agreed upon by group proposals.
  • Last meetings: Workshop(s) on communication infrastructures and a how to guide on building a community run mesh network.

Two goals:
Investigate Los Angeles together by meeting and exploring enclaves of LA.
Participatory workshop on community mesh networks, and communication infrastructures.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: mcgowies[at]gmail[dot]com

Art Making, Community Building
Organized by Taegen Meyer

Art Making, Community Building is an attempt to grapple with the concerns brought about by contemporary capitalism by building a group engagement with a variety of modes of “sonic” gathering. This ASSEMBLY incorporates elements of collective discussions, guest talks, film screenings, writing workshops, group readings, and more to develop an understanding of communal relations brought about by our gathering. In each meeting we further will work towards the utilization of new ways of working and living which go outside of the processes we are preconditioned to accept as admirable.

This ASSEMBLY aims to actualize the principle of self-organization within environmental, social, mental, aesthetic, and political ecologies. As such, these gatherings will culminate in a non-curatorial exhibition of performances, artworks, writings, and installations to showcase the work done by the group over the three month period.

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: txgen[at]ac-pas[dot]org

Help me take this seriously!!
Organized by Claudia Grigg Edo

Sure is hard to make art under capitalism! This Assembly combines a critical reading group with a collaborative creative forum. The first hour is a discussion of a text or piece of media that discusses (or embodies) creativity under capitalism. Then each session enables one participant to spend an hour presenting an unfinished (or unstarted) project and asking for specific kinds of support. These can range from verbal critique to skill-sharing and co-creation (participation type must be specified in advance). The final hour is a laptop-free space for concentrated creativity, individual or collaborative – infused and inspired by the preceding conversations.

Criticism is vital for delegitimizing patriarchal, racist capitalism, but it is often paralyzing. This ASSEMBLY’S purpose is to bring critique and creation together; to make a space where creative support is normalized and not absorbed into capitalist logics. We will embrace and encourage unfinished projects, fledgling ideas and rejected proposals!

Watch the presentation here.
Get in touch: cgriggedo[at]calarts[dot]edu