On December 1st we started our annual 8-week pause from our daily work, meaning we will not be reviewing new collaboration proposals, pitches, or other requests during this period. We will be clearing our calendars of meetings, obligations, and hard deadlines as much as we possibly can until January 7th. Then, from January 8th to January 28th, we will slowly ease into the year, working our way back to inboxes and calendars.
Once again, we will be redirecting the time we would usually spend collectively working on Sixty things toward our more individual creative practices, loves, nourishments, musings, processes of reflection, and budding ideas for Sixty’s future as we transition into 2024.
Our Slowdowns are one of the ways that we acknowledge and reaffirm to ourselves and our Indigenous, diasporic, trans, queer, disability, and creative communities the importance of a rest practice and the role that it plays in our individual and collective survival. And also the role it plays in our resistance (as The Nap Ministry generously reminds us).
To be clear, Sixty’s Slowdowns were not created for us to have the ability to shut off or distance ourselves from what’s happening to and around us. It’s not meant to be a break from the realities of our lives, our communities, or the world. Instead, it is meant to be a rest from participating in a system that requires us to work ourselves to the bone, to be too exhausted to resist, and to be defined by a form of productivity that serves a capitalist machine, global exploitation, and colonialism. It is a rest that opens up more space and possibility for us to do a different kind of labor if we choose to. The labor that is at the very heart of what it means to be an artist and a writer, especially one from and within our communities. It is a period for the labor of absorbing, articulating, contextualizing, expressing, and recording what is happening to our loved ones and throughout the world.
Sixty was created for and is made up of people who were born into a world that has required us to fight and plead for our existence, humanity, and liberation. We are part of communities and cultures that have had to create entire organizations and movements to rectify, record, and transmute the harms done to us by those in positions of social, economic, and political power. As artists and writers, we’ve had to take on the responsibility of our artworks doing WORK by encoding our artistry with history, radical or ancestral methodologies, and provocations that both resist our erasure and make it clear that we see–with eyes and hearts wide–what is happening. Our work works to provoke new blueprints, spark heart/mind shifts, and pave pathways that allow all of us to imagine and build a different and collectively-held future. All while trying to catch our breath under the suffocations of empire.
Whether we’re looking to centuries past or just yesterday, history reminds us of the ways this work is often seen as a threat to abusers of power. We all bear witness as artists, writers, journalists, editors, historians, educators, and library workers receive punitive responses to doing the work they were called to do–and doing it openly and unapologetically, with integrity, compassion, and a deep understanding of the intersections and historic patterns involved. We bear witness as our government, systems, media, and institutions continue to fail us. Our hearts shatter as we bear witness to the far too familiar sounds of the vessels of history and culture being targeted and destroyed–first and foremost the people, but also the archives, architectures, and artifacts that hold their past and future legacies. We’ve not only witnessed this before, but many of us have experienced it firsthand.
We slowdown in order to check-in and realign ourselves with our communities, artistic callings, anger, and actions. We slowdown in order to disrupt the use of exhaustion as a tool and strategy for manipulating us into silence, numbness, and complacency. We slowdown in order to face, process, and witness global grief and outcries for justice and liberation–from Gaza to Sudan, from Congo to all of the lands colonized and exploited by the United States, and beyond. We slowdown to consciously and intentionally navigate all of the ways that our paths to freedom and healing are intertwined–and to fortify our forms of resistance.