Everyday Grappling Operations

Orange County Museum of Art
Opening reception November 3, 2018, continuing through March 17, 2019
Family martial arts event, March 9, 2019
“Learning from Randori” performance, March 16, 2019

In the martial art of Judo, one never uses direct force against an opponent. Through training, one learns to neutralize the opponent’s energy, that is, to use their strength against them by timely redirection, thereby nullifying it.

In Everyday Grappling Operations, I engage with Judo as a framework for accessing affect. I’m interested in affect as embodied and bound up with consciousness, as an intensity beyond both the body and conscious cognition, as a reminder of their ontological entanglement. Affect has a mobilizing energy that projects beyond the self, as an aesthetic and performative force.

What are the ways that affect can encourage or hinder powerful action for political projects of emancipation? How can affect enable us to build strength and resilience in order to counter – to nullify – social, economic and symbolic forces of domination?

Everyday Grappling Operations explores Judo as a philosophy, a feminist praxis and a demanding physical practice. The project itself takes place over a six-month period and is multidimensional in form, consisting of a museum installation; my own commitment to Judo training both within and outside the museum; a series of public events including films, panels and performances; and a social media campaign for people engaging in #everydaygrapplingoperations.

The phrase “everyday grappling operations” captures my own practice at the moment: it describes a great challenge that is surrounded by vulnerability, given the possibility of failure at any time. In that spirit, I invite the public to join me in engaging with a difficult practice of their own for at least 21 days, and write in their challenge with the tag #everydaygrapplingoperations, shared with Instagram user @everydaygrapplingoperations, as a way to access this shared affect, to register oneself as a subject but projecting elsewhere, in other subjects at the same time.

Mariángeles Soto-Díaz, 2018

*This project is lovingly dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, who I only recently learned was the subject of physical violence by my alcoholic and sometimes charming grandfather, and to my mother and her siblings, who were too young to process this.

Extended artist statement (pdf)

Photo credit: Gene Ogami and M. Soto-Díaz