Dark Forests and Student Organizing
Posted by <Travis Hunnie> on 2022-02-15
In the fall of 2021, I started a student group to engage in strike support during a labour dispute on my university campus. Having spent the first two years of my BFA degree on Zoom, simultaneously immersed in the Discord communities of the Do Not Research and New Models, I treated this as a unique opportunity to bring everything I absorbed in these dark forest spaces into an IRL struggle.
Of the dozens of students involved in the group, one or two had previous experience in collective action or organizing, and many had no previous interest in political work or studies. We organized in our own Discord server, a space to collectivize our experiences, collaborate, skill-share, and educate each other. Our space had its own Overton Window, and as it shifted further left, we would emerge for increasingly risky direct actions; sit-ins and hard pickets were only possible because of the trust we developed in the safety of our own dark forest. By the winter, we realized that this collective work was changing us as individuals, and many of us felt that we would never be the same again.
In my artistic practice I combine photography, printmaking, and installation, striving to understand theoretical concepts by giving them physical form. The process of transferring images from analogue to digital, and back to analogue, reflects the push-pull relationship between my online political education, my institutional education, and my community organizing work. My work will be exhibited in a group show in spring 2022, where artists from within our student group will bring our experiences of solidarity-building and radicalization to a public audience.