Spitting Fire (2/12 – 3/19)
Spitting Fire is the inaugural programming series for SPACE’s new Curatorial Fellowships where SPACE staff invite local, national, and international voices to explore ideas in Maine. Our first Curatorial Fellow, Valeria Missalina Bembry, brings her unique background as both a humanitarian and art historian to explore the radical histories and possibilities in using oral traditions, visual storytelling and spoken word performance and “artivism”.
Spitting Fire merges readings of historical writings by Black civil rights leaders and activists, while also presenting media and storytelling featuring diverse experiences and points of view from diaspora communities. Each of these works was selected for how it speaks to different social issues of our times that arise with bodies moving across borders and space. Ranging from perspectives on migration and social change these speeches, poems, and writings speak to the fluid nature of cultural activism. We hope you’ll join us throughout the coming weeks to explore issues of global migration, justice focused leadership models, American history and transnationalism, and the intersection of art and activism.
Summary of Event Details (more details to be announced)
February 12-16: Revolution From Afar
In 2019, after months of protests across Sudan, the military removed thirty-year dictator Omar al-Bashir and cracked down in a violent fashion on the civilian sit-in outside its headquarters. The Internet was shut down, leaving those outside Sudan to voice a plea for peaceful transition to civilian government. An ocean away, Sudanese-American poets and musicians, whose families left Sudan for America in decades past, gather in major American cities to perform in support of the revolution. At the heart of the film is a conversation around identity, belonging, and the uncertain future of Sudan, from which they have been physically cut off. What happens when they can only watch from afar?
Watch the film and explore the interview between Valeria Missalina Bembry and Revolution From Afar filmmaker Bentley Brown on the SPACE Reader.
February 19: “Drum Major Instinct”
A dramatic reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “The Drum Major Instinct”—an evocative and ominous sermon about the impulse in all humans to be the first, featuring performance duo, Jason and Khalil LeSaldo followed by a conversation with Valeria Missalina Bembry.
February 26, 6:00-7:30p: “Pulling a James Baldwin”
This event features an open call for proposals from artists, writers, and performers to select and perform their favorite James Baldwin excerpt. The readers selected by Valeria Missalina Bembry will be notified by February 19th and will receive a stipend for their participation in this digital event on February 26th.
Please submit via this google form.
March 5: A Word Away screening
South London and New York based filmmaker Mollie Moore’s film A Word Away is a documentary that follows the hardships, mental health and loneliness that comes with the title ‘immigrant’ in Maine, USA. The film follows Cosmo, his father and his sick mother as they attempt to find ‘home’ in a place that doesn’t seem to welcome them. Cosmo has struggled with mutism, mental health and physical illness, but this film shows him in a light where he is wanting to speak out and connect with others. We are introduced to his friend Moon, a poet in Maine USA, who encourages him to write his story lyrically, ending with a tearful performance, with his Dad in the audience.
March 19, 6:00p-7:00p: Big Village online talk
Big Village is an interactive documentary that recreates a time and place, which only exists in the memories of a community of Iranian Kurds that are forced to live in diaspora around the world. Explore Big Village and then join us for an online talk on March 19th with filmmaker Beri Shalmashi and Valeria Missalina Bembry.
Valeria Missalina Bembry (she/her)
Born in Miami and splitting her youth between Florida and Maine, Valeria moved abroad upon graduating from Scarborough High School and kept it moving for nearly two decades across a couple continents. From 2011-2019 she had been based in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where she was an educator, cultural producer, and humanitarian aid professional. While working at the nexus of art and international development and cooperation, she worked with ArtRole, a British-Iraqi arts organization dedicated to fostering harmonious connections through artistic exchange and arts education. With ArtRole and other international and local cultural and humanitarian organizations, and with the support of the US Consulate, French Institute and Hivos, a Dutch development aid organization, she coordinated exhibitions, artist workshops and a conference examining gender roles in a changing society through the lens of artistic practice (Women in Action 2011-2013). Valeria earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Richmond, the American International University in London, a Postgraduate Diploma in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Master of Arts in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Prior to her return to Maine, Valeria worked for the International Organization for Migration (IOM – UN MIgration) in the Iraq Mission. This new programming series is part of her ongoing research in art activism as praxis in public education on social justice, human rights and migration, she is a protection specialist working with youth. Spitting Fire is her cultural programming debut in Maine.
Support for SPACE’s Curatorial Fellows and their programming has been made possible by the Moser Family Foundation, the Cohen Foundation, and the VIA | Wagner Incubator Grant.