Through a sustained engagement with The Precarious Life of the Parol, an installation art exhibition by the Filipinx artist Diane Williams, this essay theorizes “brown gathering”: a quotidian practice of archiving that mobilizes the kinship networks of minoritarian subjects as an affective and circulatory infrastructure of collecting, preserving, and (re)signifying the objects of brown life. Brown gathering simultaneously attests to the intimacies of state violence and the practices of minoritarian subjects. In Parol, named after a Filipinx Christmas ornament of Spanish and native origin, Williams turns toward this curatorial practice of making art with trash objects as a way to reckon with the archival absences of Philippine history. This investigation of Williams’s pieces, all made from trash objects that her family donated to her, concerns three categories: skeletal frames (wood and wire), used to explore archives of excess and mess; plastics, used to speak about the temporality of diaspora; and discarded food containers (SPAM cans and sauce mixes), used to theorize the politics of the brown body. These objects, like the brown subjects that signify them, are testaments to the ongoing plunder of empire and to what empire jettisons around the world.

You do not currently have access to this content.