{ gazes }


There is something violent in the thought that we must be only one.

Whole. Only one identity. Static.

Is there only one way to be human?

We are taught that we are wrong since childhood.

Wrong skin. Wrong body. Wrong parents. Wrong home. No house, instead we have giants made of concrete.

Wrong wallet. Empty soul. Trying to fill it with status?

Wrong language. Too loud. Too different. Too fluid.

Gaze turned the wrong way. We try to see ourselves through their eyes.

But what happens if we make the margin the center?

What happens we look towards each other instead? With many gazes?

More stories, more narratives?

By reclaiming the narrative of our site and naming it Orten, we have created an opportunity to start re-imagining narratives about the space and our identity. An attempt to free ourselves from the dehumanizing gaze, rhetoric and colonial logic that are constantly being reproduced.

bell hooks’ describes the space in the margins not as a site of deprivation but as a space for radical possibilities and a space for resistance:

It was this marginality that I was naming as a central location for the production of a counter hegemonic discourse that is not just found in words but in habits of being and the way one lives. As such, I was not speaking of a marginality one wished to lose – to give up or surrender as a part of moving into the center – but rather as a site one stays in, clings to even because it nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers to one the possibility of a radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.[1]

Over the years, I have seen many peers, friends, artists, thinkers and activists think further and try to create this place. However, these movements have often split. In the struggle to be subjects and free ourselves from oppression, many of us have reproduced the idea that there is only one truth, only one way to make resistance. A search for a concept that will unite everyone. Discussions about which struggle is most important, who is most oppressed, which struggle should we choose? As if there is only one way to free ourselves. Could it be that these pitfalls have been created because we have unconsciously reproduced the structures of hegemony? That we must understand the world through a single universal truth, that there is only one way to be human, is something violent. A single culture, a single language, everything that doesn’t belong ends up outside. Unconsciously, we try to adapt ourselves – our bodies, our language, our stories, our everyday lives – to fit in. Without a compass, we easily fall into the patterns into which we have been indoctrinated through generations.

Zapatist leader Subcomandante Marcos says: “Para nosotros, el mundo está hecho de muchos mundos”, translated as “To us, the world is made by many worlds”. The Zapatistas have emphasized the importance of building new worlds within the shell of the old, as a way to resist and transform dominant power structures.[2] Therefore the concept that I am exploring in this research is that of A Million Gazes. If we situate ourselves in Orten as a site in the margins, with the possibility to imagine alternatives and new worlds, we should stop trying to find only one solution; only one narrative about what Orten really is; who is more Orten than the other. Instead, we should be trying to see the place through many gazes: each one centering themself in their body and experiences; accepting that there are more than a million worlds; each one in each person; each one with their unique gaze. Can we create a space where all of those million worlds can exist together? Can we explore Orten through a million gazes?

[1] Bell Hooks, “Choosing the margin as a space of radical openness,” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, no. 36 (1989): 20.
[2] Harvey, N. Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. London: Verso Books, 2005.


Emma Dominguez Martinez