“The Decolonization Project is a collective, but it is an open collective because it’s more of an idea.”
These are the words of Mariana Ixchel Moscoso, founder of the Decolonization Project. The collective was formed nearly two years ago, and has since gone on to garner national attention through social media and community projects.
“The idea was to support projects under this idea of decolonization, and so we center our projects around really unlearning and relearning through indigenous cosmology and culture and art, and imagining alternative futures for ourselves,” says Moscoso.
“It comes from the concept that decolonization is not an endpoint but a process, and since we have been completely enveloped by white supremacy and colonized practices, worldview, and… well, it’s infiltrated every aspect of our lives,” they describe. “So we begin with this concept of: everything that we know is a lie, how do we unravel those lies to restructure and change our world? And art is the practice of liberation, so when we create art, we are imaging other possibilities for ourselves and the world.”
The Decolonization Project houses a diverse range of content and projects. On one hand are social justice events, such as the ‘Fourth of You Lie’ activist celebration in continuation of their recent campaign to to remove what are deemed to be racist statues from the Sacramento area that will be hosted on the West Steps of the Sacramento Capital on July 4th. On the other are artistic projects, such as the web-based ‘QuaranZine’.
Previously, the Decolonization Project had hosted in-person workshops at which people were invited to create art for compilation into zines. When quarantine started, following the COVID-19 outbreak, the collective began the digital QuaranZine. For this, Moscoso collects artwork submissions from across the country and arranges them for publication online.
“[Digital publication] is interesting in that I don’t see who’s in the room, like before when we had the physical workshops,” says Moscoso. “And so there’s not that one-on-one interaction or the group interaction, but it has really expanded who is in the metaphorical room, right? So the zine itself is like the room and we’ve had folks from across the country submit to it, which adds a different perspective.”
They highlight the recent fourth issue of the QuaranZine as an example of this idea, noting the organic shift in themes that occurred between the planning of the project and its publication.
“So if you notice, the cover of the last zine is of corn. I threw out the idea of the Summer Solstice, before the uprisings to the murder of George Floyd. And naturally, instead of the focus being entirely on summer and the idea of the Summer Solstice, if you look at the submissions there’s a shift in the conversation. Some folks still submitted things related to earth and summer, but there’s also submissions about Black Lives Matter, and the murder, and the abolition of police,” Moscoso describes.
“So even though the theme was summer, the conversation shifted and even the focus from the pandemic shifted. And the theme within the zine became more about liberation. So, it’s interesting because that is a conversation, right? Even though we weren’t in-person, even though that wasn’t planned, what the zine is really reflecting is how we are living in these times and how we’re engaging with the world at every moment.”
The QuaranZine is comprised of artworks sent in by the public, and operates with a philosophy of acceptance and open submission.
“Whatever gets submitted gets put into the zine, so there’s no judgment of what should or should not go in there, because everybody’s voice is worthy of being heard, or artworks of being seen. So I include all the artworks that get submitted. What I do is simply curate the order that they’ll go in, just so that there’s a flow either of topics of images, or to create a balance between writing and visual art pieces,” they note.
“I want to invite anybody that has an idea to feel free to reach out and we can collaborate and bring that idea to fruition.”