Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions. — Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Yes We Cannibal is a project space for new art and thought.
It was imagined into being as one node in an international network of spaces built on care and non-hierarchical experimentation.
The idea for Yes We Cannibal first emerged when co-founders Mat Keel and Liz Lessner met in Washington DC in 2018. Mat had recently returned from living in Bristol, England and was inspired by that city’s deep roots in musical innovation and alternative socio-political thought. Liz was preparing to move to Brazil for a year where the experience of carnaval blocos would forever change how she saw the social world.
They began working together on an art event structured around an experiential dinner “for the end of the world” with each of the courses serving as one of the four horsemen.
That idea quickly took on a life of its own and with Mat and Liz’s move to Louisiana, it became clear that they wanted to build something much more lasting, ambitious and responsive to their new city.
We received the key to our building a week before COVID shut down much of daily life. Although we did some online projects, a plant sale, and hosted one outdoor music event, we did not begin regular programming until our first livestream event in late December. These livestream events continued through the summer of 2021.
Our first exhibition took place in February 2021 while the regular opening of our doors to the public was staggered, until finally occurring in the Summer of 2021.
Today, Yes We Cannibal offers an open home for unrestricted and non-hierarchical experimentations with art, music, food, research and performance. Its underlying goal is to experiment with collaboration towards liberation in all aspects of life.
Every single event we have ever done has been free. But we passionately encourage participants to donate to performers and buy art. Every penny that is donated to artists and performers or given to purchase artwork goes directly to them. Yes We Cannibal takes no cut whatsoever, including no gallery commission.
Why Cannibalism? Do you eat people?
Our name is inspired by the early Brazilian modernist avant garde, and Oswald de Andrade’s Anthropophagic Manifesto (1928) which modestly proposed the possibility of devouring the dominant culture – incorporating its strength and knowledge to produced something new and hybrid, rather than just proclaiming resistance against it.
This is our inspiration for an operational philosophy and praxis of consensual collective social synthesis against the dominant neoliberal plantation paradigm which surrounds us.
The variety of our spaces at Yes We Cannibal allows us to host a wide range of events.
- 600 sq ft gallery and performance space
- A full kitchen with new appliances,
- Small office
- Two bathrooms,
- A reading room
- Small sleeping quarters with one full-sized bed as well as a nice inflatable bed, both for artists in residence or touring performers
- A large paved front lot on Government Street.
- A 24/7 access free public fridge
- A small food-forest running down 16th St
In our first three years, we have hosted too many kinds of events to list them all. They have included
- Reading groups
- Food events
- Dance Performances
- Musical Performances
- Art Exhibitions
- and many more