TRIBUTE TO GHOST SHIP.
TO THOSE 36 LIVES TAKEN TO SOON: REST IN POWER.
On December 2, 2016, a fire destroyed an artist warehouse space in Oakland, California on the night of a queer experimental music show. The space was known as Ghost Ship. The heart-wrenching tragedy of the thirty-six lives lost was compounded with the tremors of fear the accident sent through underground communities across the United States. The fear of losing these spaces is always present in this country, but it was especially palpable after the fire: “For many of us,” as one commentator wrote, “these spaces are what have kept us alive. In a world that demands its inhabitants to be a certain way, think a certain way, or live a certain way, we gravitate to the spaces that say: Welcome. Be yourself. For the tormented queer, the bullied punk, the beaten trans, the spat-upon white trash, the disenfranchised immigrants and young people of color, these spaces are a haven of understanding in a world that doesn’t understand—or can’t, or doesn’t seem to want to try….”
Beginning at Ghost Ship, this second to last meeting of the working group is intended to orient us around different models of economic coalition formed across sectors since the 19th century—from the shadow economies of the ad hoc, the experimental, and the underground (where Ghost Ship operated); to the “cultural” economies and “creative” industries of the non-profit and the state-sponsored. Where can we imagine spaces of possibility within or alongside entrenched market forces? Could the co-operative model be a means by which to begin digging our way out of such entrenchments?
Olive Blackburn, PhD candidate in the Department of World Arts and Culture, UCLA; co-founder of the Oakland-based Salta Collective
This meeting is part of the Critical Theory Working Group Collaborations, Co-operatives, Coalition-Building, co-sponsored by the Arts Research Center, the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, the Berkeley Center for New Media, and the Maxine Elliot Chair of Comparative Literature.