Waiting in the seat of sensation: The Brown existentialism of Ryan Rivera

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    This article considers the work of queer Puerto Rican avant-garde multimedia artist, Ryan Rivera, by focusing on four of his very short experimental videos from his series Body/Psyche. The author argues that his art performs a mode of Brownness that operates as a shared sense of endurance between both the spectator and artist, or in what the author calls an aesthetics of mediated ontologies in brief durations. Through an engagement with Heideggerian phenomenology, the author contends that Rivera's sardonic, aggressive, and histrionic videos situate the viewer directly in the seat of sensation where Brownness unfolds as a waiting-with and a waiting-on, oriented by limited control over one's labor. Violence and melodrama intensify and elongate the short timeframe of each video, enacting Brownness-as-waiting. The author also highlights how waiting is not a neutral act: it is a specific aesthetic and political exercise for a Brown subject that performs within what the author terms, a genealogy of Brown existentialism that imagines politics not as something we arrive at, but as something that we await. Rivera demonstrates how such waiting is in fact the condition of existence called Brown existentialism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)336-352
    Number of pages17
    JournalWomen and Performance
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2 2015


    • Brownness
    • Ricanness
    • Ryan Rivera
    • existentialism
    • experimental video art
    • queerness
    • time studies
    • waiting

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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