On April 29, 2018, X-TRA hosted the Los Angeles premiere of Martine Syms’s film, Incense Sweaters & Ice, at 356 Mission, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The screening, which was followed by a conversation between the curator Erin Christovale and the artist, was the third event in X-TRA’s 20th Anniversary Artist Writes series. Our goal was to provide a venue that could support a meaningful encounter with Syms’s work and an opportunity to celebrate her writing, which is published in X-TRA, vol. 20, no. 3.
The editors made the decision to host the event at 356 Mission in concert with Martine Syms. Some members of the editorial board disagreed with this decision, some decided not to attend, and one board member resigned. We recognize the roles artists and galleries can play in the process of gentrification, the weight and complexity of this issue, and the polarizing conflict surrounding galleries in Boyle Heights. However, we don’t see this as a binary issue.
The editorial board is a diverse group of volunteers that has agreed to disagree for over twenty years. Though we frequently achieve consensus, we also believe that the excavation of our differences generates critical thinking and new possibilities. In choosing to host an event with 356 Mission, we lost valued colleagues. While we will miss their participation, we appreciate the dialogue and reflection that their departures have generated within the editorial board.
X-TRA will continue to pursue our mission to provide platforms for free expression, provoke dialogue, demonstrate the value of art, and advocate for the voices of artists and writers.
The X-TRA Editorial Board