Building Our Autonomy: Autonets Convergence Toronto


Building Our Autonomy: Autonets Convergence Toronto
Wednesday, November 13, 7-9PM
Robarts Library, Room 1150, 130 St. George Street

Autonets Convergence aims to brings together hackers, anti-racist coders, gender hackers, gender changers, dancers, movement makers, poets, performers, media makers, anti-violence, transformative justice and prison abolitionist activists by giving them a space to share their knowledge and their skills in order to help stop violence against queer and trans* people, people of color, disabled people, two-spirit people, sex workers and women. Engaging in discussion with the local community members based in Toronto as well as with the community at UofT about the kinds of violence we face daily, we will collectively work towards creative community-based responses to end violence, creating experiences and skills which at the end of the workshop we can take back to our own communities. The goal is to seed a movement of creative free/libre/open source technologies in concert with non-digital, community based solutions, to end gendered, racialized, sexual and ableist violence.

More information at

Workshop organized by micha cárdenas. micha is an artist, hackctivist, poet, performer, student, and educator, mixed-race trans femme latina survivor who works at the intersection of movement, technology and politics.

Venue is wheelchair accessible, please do not wear chemical scents to create accessibility for those with chemical injury



To contact me, use the form below. Messages go to my email and are not publicly posted.
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Pregnancy: Trans of Color Reproductive Futures, bioart, poetry, video

[caption id="attachment_3152" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Still from Pregnancy[/caption] Pregnancy Digital HD video, 13:15 micha cárdenas My hybrid poetry/bioart project, Pregnancy, presents a vision of trans latina reproductive futures, based on my experiences of cryogenic tissue banking, aka sperm banking, after having been on hormones for many years. At the 2014 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, Morgan Robyn Collado stated that violence against trans women of color is a reproductive issue, because we are prevented from living long enough to realize our dreams of having children. I want more than just to live. Existing literature on transgender pregnancy and family planning, such as in lesbian parenting books, focuses almost exclusively on transgender men. Books such as Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, focus almost entirely on trans men, while making on the most brief reference to the fact that trans women can bank their sperm. This reproduces a transmisogynist dynamic where trans men are highly valued by queer communities and transgender women’s concerns and existence is erased. In response, my project Pregnancy puts women of color feminism in dialog with bioart through DIY biotech and poetry describing trans of color experience. The emerging trans of color feminism can inform feminist movements for reproductive justice in important ways. Pregnancy was written during a two month period in which I had to stop taking my prescribed hormones. [caption id="attachment_3153" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Still 2 from Pregnancy[/caption] " I am no testo junkie, this is no experiment, these are not drugs, they’re my body. I take hormones every day of my life out of necessity, just to have a body I can live in, to avoid death, to survive" Pregnancy is available for exhibition or screenings. To contact me about showing this work, use the comment box on this page, which will send me an email, and the comment will not be made public.   Forthcoming print version in Transgender Studies Quarterly's Transfeminisms issue July 2015 - Exhibited at That's So Gay: Fall to Pieces at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, ON June 2015 - Performed at the National Queer Arts Festival as part of Mangos with Chili's "All That You Touch You Change" in San Francisco. April 2015 - Exhibited at Open Embodiments: Locating Somatechnics in Tucson April 30th-May 5th - Exhibited in Los Angeles at the SCA Gallery in iMappening 2015, alongside my game Redshift & Portalmetal.
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Redshift & Portalmetal

Redshift & Portalmetal by micha cárdenas Sound by Bobby Bray Redshift and Portalmetal asks: as climate change forces us to travel to the stars and build new homes and families, how do we build on this land, where we are settlers, while working to undo colonization? The story uses space travel as a lens through which to understand the experience of migration and settlement for a trans woman of color. Redshift and Portalmetal tells the story of Roja, who's planet's environment is failing, so she has to travel to other worlds. The project takes the form of an online, interactive game, including film, performance and poetry. I designed the interaction, wrote the text, performed the movement, and coordinated the filming in Los Angeles and Toronto. The project is built with HTML5 video, CSS and Javascript, using the Scalar e-publishing platform. Play it at, and if you like it you can make a donation!    
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Redshift and Portalmetal, performance images, Oct, Nov, 2014

Redshift and Portalmetal asks: as climate change forces us to travel to the stars and build new homes and families, how do we build on this land, where we are settlers, while working to undo colonization? The story uses space travel as a lens through which to understand the experience of migration and settlement for a trans woman of color. Redshift and Portalmetal points to possibilities of post-digital, post-media, and decolonial approaches to communication.

The project takes the form of an online, interactive game, including film, performance and poetry. I designed the interaction, wrote the text, performed the movement, and coordinated the filming in Los Angeles and Toronto. The online component is still in development, and requires the Google Chrome web browser or Firefox on Android devices. The project is built with HTML5 video, CSS and Javascript, using the Scalar e-publishing platform as the content management system. Additionally, I have performed Redshift and Portalmetal live at the opening night of HTMlles 2015, a feminist new media festival in Montreal, as an opening keynote performance at the "Gender, Bodies, Technology" conference at Virginia Tech, and at Temple Contemporary gallery in Philadelphia. 

Live game playtesting as performance at the opening night of the HTMlles Feminist New Media Festival in Montreal, Quebec, November 2014. Photos by võ thiên việt. Live playtesting performance at Temple Contemporary gallery in Philadelphia, October 2014 part of my artist residency at Temple University. Photos by Dustin Fenstermacher.  
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Speculative Bodies: Trans and Queer of Color Media Praxis, Panel at SCMS 2015

I'm very happy to announce that I'll be presenting on a panel with a group of amazing scholars at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2015 annual conference in March in Montreal! Panel Title: Speculative Bodies: Trans and Queer of Color Digital Media Praxis Chair: Tara McPherson Respondent: Zach Blas Shifting, Flickering Futures: Imagining a Digital Trans of Color Praxis/Micha Cardenas The Digital as Drag/Margaret Rhee Queer Love and Media Justice: Critical Fandom as Speculative Feminist Praxis/Alexis Lothian  
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What Carries Us Through the World – Workshops and Screening in Toronto

Image: micha cárdenas, Alessandra Renzi, Frantz Jerome, Benjamin Lundberg, Lily Mengesha, Aisha Jordan, Joana Fittipaldi and Tomaz Capobanco, photos by Macarena Gomez-Barris, We Already Know and We Don’t Yet Know, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics VIII Encuentro, São Paulo, Brazil, January 2013. Courtesy of the artist. [Image shows 8 people performing a movement gesture, pointing with one arm outstretched, looking down, wearing black and grey clothes, ground wet, audience and green plants in the background]

Call for Participants

micha cárdenas With guest facilitators Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Eddie Ndopu

Presented by e-fagia and co-presented by the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University

Workshops Part 1 - Monday, August 18, 6-9pm with micha cárdenas and Eddie Ndopu Part 2 - Wednesday, September 24th, 6-9pm with micha cárdenas and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Public Screening September TBD

Registration ends: Sunday, August 10th, 2014 Please RSVP for ASL by August 1st Maximum 20 participants. Workshops will take place at IDRC at OCAD University, 49 McCaul Street.

“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar.” “Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.” ― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

What carries us through the city? Urban environments are highly designed with layers of technology. As we move through them, we bring our own technologies that assist us in travel, from canes and wheelchairs to lipstick and hormones to objects with spiritual significance to mobile media and wearable electronics. Inspired by the work of the Gloria Anzaldúa, a gender non-conforming, sick and disabled chicana poet, this two part workshop series brings together together trans people, disabled people, people of color and allies to share our knowledge of moving though the city, in order to build trans and disabled solidarity through our shared need for safe movement. Starting with a discussion of wearable electronics in cárdenas' project Local Autonomy Networks, participants will consider all the varied kinds of technology they wear on their bodies and encounter as they move through the city. 

What Carries Us Through the World will engage participants in a two part workshop series that will culminate in a final screening. Throughout the workshops we will identify design problems that limit access or allow for violence, from physical aspects such as curb cuts to ideological aspects such as colonial borders and gendered restrooms. Using discussion, writing and performance exercises we will create short video performances that engage with issues of access, movement and liberation in Toronto. Through our shared experiences of violence and everyday resilience strategies, we will work towards a vision of the future where trans and disabled people can have freedom of movement. 

The series asks: how can we reconfigure our understanding of technology and design, to decolonize technology, to no longer think technology only in terms of digital technologies, circuit boards, LED's and microcontrollers. How can we expand our idea of technology to include lipstick, glasses, jewelry, curb cuts, door frames, respirators and face masks, immigration controls, transportation networks, ways of sharing secrets, nonverbal ways of communicating, all of the ways that we create worlds as we move through them. 

To register your participation, please send your name and contact information,  mmcarden A+ usc d0+ edu with “What Carries Us Through the World” in the subject line and we will send you a form for participant information. 

About the Artists

micha cárdenas is a performer, writer, student, educator, mixed-race latina femme who works with movement as a technology of change. micha is a Provost Fellow and PhD candidate in Media Arts + Practice (iMAP) at University of Southern California and a member of the art collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0. micha’s solo and collaborative work has been seen in museums, galleries, biennials, keynotes, community and public spaces around the world.

Eddie Ndopu - Born to a South African freedom fighter mother who fled from the Apartheid regime to Namibia under self-imposed exile, Edward (Eddie) Ndopu is a dis/abled queer femme afropolitan living in Ottawa, Ontario. Named by the Mail and Guardian Newspaper as one of their Top 200 Young South Africans, he is a social critic, anti-oppression practitioner, consultant, writer, and scholar.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled Sri Lankan cis femme writer, performer, organizer and badass visionary healer. The author of the Lambda Award winning Love Cake and Consensual Genocide and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities. With Cherry Galette, she co-founded Mangos With Chili, North America's performance incubator for Two Spirit, queer and trans people of color performance artists, and is a lead artist with Sins Invalid. She has taught, performed and lectured across North America, Sri Lanka and Australia and co-founded Toronto’s Asian Arts Freedom School.


This workshop is for trans people, sick and disabled people, 2-spirit, black / indigenous / mixed / people of color, but it is open to allies interested in working in solidarity at the intersections of disability justice, assistive technologies, transgender safety, wearable technologies and transportation in the city. The venue is wheelchair accessible and ASL interpretation will be made available upon request. Please RSVP for ASL by August 1st. Do not wear chemical scents or scented garments, to allow accessibility for presenters and participants with chemical sensitivity. [More details about scent-free accessibility here] 

About e-fagia

e-fagia is a Toronto-based organization created to produce and disseminate visual and media art projects with emphasis on contemporary Canadian and Latin American artists. Our focus is on diversity and art practices that respond to common decolonial struggles in the Americas. We provide a space for artists’ visibility in the national and international communities, while advancing theoretical inquiry through exhibitions, digital and print publications, and lectures by local and international artists, curators and scholars.

We have a trans-disciplinary approach towards the complexity of contemporary arts: we foster encounters between new media artists and people of other academic disciplines to develop aesthetic and socio-communicational projects under the net of relations enabled by new technologies. Our publications and presentations help us to expose the public to different types of contemporary artistic production. For more information visit

About  Inclusive Design Research Center at Ontario College of Art & Design

The Inclusive Design Research Center (IRDC) is a research and development centre at OCAD University where an international community of open source developers, designers, researchers, advocates, and volunteers work together to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively. The group promotes inclusion in a full complement of activities:

- growing design and development practices

- creating tools that others can use and contribute to

- teaching the principles and techniques of inclusive design

- advocating for inclusion in international standards

- providing services that match solutions with individuals

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Artist in Residence at Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto

I'm so honored to be an artist in residence this summer at Artscape Gibraltar Point in Toronto, Ontario. Read on for more details... ANNOUNCING THE ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE FOR THE 2014 INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY (le français suivra) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday June 12, 2014 ANNOUNCING THE ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE FOR THE 2014 INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY I’m proud to announce the continuation of the INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY, the first intergenerational artist-in-residency program for LGBTQ artists in Canada. The residency will take place with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, private donors, and the collaboration of Artscape Gibraltar Point, on the Toronto Island July 1 to 15, 2014. The INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY offers studio space and free room and board to artists for the duration of the two-week residency. Residents will also receive mentoring and studio visits from critically acclaimed artists, and curators, as well as collectors and art historians. Our partner is Artscape Gibraltar Point, an artist residency and retreat center nestled on the Toronto Island near Hanlan’s Point. Leading figures in Canadian contemporary art, artists, collectors, curators and art historians, will serve as mentors, who by providing residents with one-on-one studio visits and support will participate in the community the residency generates. The aim of this residency is to help create a vision and experience of LGBT longevity through shared practice, art career management training, and community building. Right now, there is no real vision for LGBTQ longevity. There is little to no plan for LGBT elder care. There is a dearth of medical investment around the aging trans body. Simultaneous to this, neither Canadian LGBTQ political history nor Canadian LGBTQ art history is taught or shared in any kind of organized or widespread way. Only a privileged few who get a certain kind of humanities education, might seek out LGBTQ art history, and this is more likely to be about American artists and American historical events. Typically this results in a fixation on that which alleges to be 'new', because there is no sense of trajectory or lineage. An explicitly Canadian artist residency with an intergenerational LGBTQ cohort can strengthen the vision and community we offer one another. The INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY is very pleased to announce the artists for the inaugural 2014 residency: Micha CARDENAS (Toronto, Ontario/Los Angeles, California) Derek DUNLOP (Winnipeg, Manitoba) Syrus Marcus WARE (Toronto, Ontario) Micha CARDENAS is a scholar, and artist using dance, text and interactive technology. She is working on a series of movement and poetry performances, videos and an interactive online experience. Derek DUNLOP using Queer abstraction, drawing and painting processes, he will explore three new formal approaches to making works on paper arising out of his recent work in the studio. Syrus Marcus WARE is Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, youth-advocate and educator. He is working on large-scale painting themed around archives, LGBT storytelling and LGBT activism in Toronto. The jurors also chose two alternates. Thanks to a generous donor, the alternates can still participate in the 2014 INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY by sharing the studios and being a part of the residency community. This will enrich the 2014 residency experience for all of the participants. Alternates: Alec BUTLER (Toronto, Ontario) Alec is developing “My Friend Brindley” a documentary about the late local unsung hero and historic figure Brindley, their friendship, art and activism, and the forbidden subject of death and grieving. Joshua VETTIVELU (Thornhill, Ontario) will use the landscapes of Gibraltar Point and surrounding islands to develop land artworks, temporary sculpture and video. We wish to thank all those who applied! We received applications from across Canada, from Halifax to the Prairies to Quebec and even California, North Carolina and Brooklyn,. Jurors were faced with the difficult task of selecting only a few among the many excellent applications. Our 2014 cohort of Artists in Residence was juried by Elisha Lim (artist), Kelly McCray (curator) and Kathleen Pirrie Adams (curator and professor, School of Image Arts, Ryerson University). Each of these award winning artist educators brings a depth of history and experience to the process, broadening the credibility and gravitas of the project. We considered a variety of criteria in the selection process in order to put together a coherent and balanced cohort of residents. Applicants for the INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY included a broad range of ages and career points and genders. The work submitted for review was passionate, rigorous and inspired, showcasing a diverse array of mediums, and exciting practices. We hope those who were not offered a residency this year are aware of the crucial role they played in developing this project, and feel encouraged to apply again next year. The residency will bring both new creative perspectives and prestigious art professionals together at Artscape Gibraltar Point. Located in the former Toronto Island Public and Natural Science School, Artscape Gibraltar Point offers retreat space, artist studios and accommodations for artists . A short walk from Toronto’s clothing optional beaches at Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point enjoys it’s own semi private beach. The beach is shielded from the road by a stand of natural brush and trees. There are designated wooden walkways through this natural area to ensure that foot traffic does not degrade it. To the descendants of the Ojibwa, now the Mississauga First Nation, the Toronto Islands are sacred land. The tranquil, idyllic setting at Artscape Gibraltar Point is world-renowned as a centre for members of the artistic and non-profit communities to think, experiment, collaborate and share ideas. On July 14, there will be a concluding public event which will both celebrate the achievement of the Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency and its participants, as well as honour the donors, and raise funds for the continuation and expansion of the residency in 2015. Please visit our Facebook page and our website for updates about the artists and the public events. Interested parties can also donate via Paypal, on our website. By exploring Canadian LGBT art history and artistic practice, while supporting artists and art production, we could foster communication across generational lines with this community building initiative. The INTERGENERATIONAL LGBT ARTIST RESIDENCY highlights the trajectory and longevity of LGBT art both historically and reaching into the future. We look forward to seeing you on the island!    
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We Need Trans of Color Feminism Now

The AVP statistics are out, and again trans women of color are the number one targets of violence and murder, by a wide margin. We need a trans of color feminism now, that can stop these deaths of our sisters and free those behind bars, like Jane Doe. And as I said last week at the Writing Trans Genres conference in Winnipeg, this is not a project for trans women of color to do alone, any more than feminism is for women or ending racism is just a project for black people. No, everyone needs to be contributing to, building and supporting this emerging movement of brilliant, beautiful and powerful trans women of color and developing an analysis that can account for, and end, these deaths and imprisonments. Trans of color feminism will be art, theory and activism. We need a trans of color feminism that can move beyond a simple demand for representation that would allow violence, including the violence of imprisonment and war, to continue, in exchange for media coverage, that understands that neoliberalism works by managing difference which means giving us visibility in corporate media in order to say who is an acceptable trans person and who isn't. We need a trans of color feminism that can find ways to still work for justice for all the trans women of color who don't want to be identified and just want to live their lives. We need a trans of color feminism that won't let transfeminism reproduce the ways that feminism centered whiteness. We need a trans of color feminism that can account for the historical lack of trans women in women of color feminism. We need a trans of color feminism that doesn't forget where we came from and acknowledges that the concept of transgender was invented by white western doctors and ignores the ancient histories of gender diversity as old as humanity. We need trans of color feminism now, because we want to live, we want to love and we want to thrive, and we are going to change whatever structures stand in our way.        
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Body Games: Workshop series in Toronto this summer

  I’m so excited to share my Body Games series of workshops this summer in Toronto, with Dames Making Games! The first is wearable electronics and the second is embodied non-competitive games! Here’s the workshop series description: Body Games – Our Bodies, Our Games a workshop series by micha cárdenas Does the identity and embodiment of the game designer matter? Does the identity and style of embodiment of the player matter? How can we use these parts of ourselves to design better, more compelling, more transformative games for social justice? This workshop series by micha cárdenas, presented by Dames Making Games Toronto, will look at games we can play where our bodies characteristics are central game mechanics. How can we create a capture the flag game that is anti-colonial? Or a game of Tag that will help end sexual violence? Or a game of hide-and-go-seek that would challenge trans-misogyny? Or a game that challenges ableism by relying on disabled players unique capabilities in order to win? Accessibility: The workshop space and washroom are wheelchair accessible. Do not wear scented products to this workshop. If ASL is needed, please leave a comment to send me a message and RSVP.
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