Everyday Grappling Operations

Orange County Museum of Art
November 3, 2018, through March 17, 2019
March 9, 2019: Family day girlpower martial arts event
March 16, 2019: “Learning from Randori” performance (with Bunasawakai Dojo and other performers)

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 framework for understanding embodied action, power, vulnerability and consciousness in their ontological entanglement. What makes affect a mobilizing energy projecting beyond the self, as others, onto others, an unequivocal performative force?

What are the ways that affect can encourage powerful action for projects of emancipation? How can affect be harnessed to build the necessary resilience we need to nullify forces of domination? How can we multiply the power of affect (that which moves us and makes us human) towards an ethics of care?

Everyday Grappling Operations explores judo as a philosophy, feminist praxis and demanding physical and social 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 towards a black belt both within and outside the museum embedded within a local dojo; a series of public events including films, panels and performances.

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 as a way to register oneself as a vulnerable subject but in connection with others.

Mariángeles Soto-Díaz, 2018

*This project is lovingly dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandmother, who I only recently learned was the subject of physical violence by my grandfather.

Photo credit: Gene Ogami