Feral Intimacies is an online exhibition comprising two newly commissioned digital projects by Super Futures Haunt Qollective (SFHQ) and Jeremiah Barber, created this spring at a critical juncture in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Pivoting their embodied and performance-based practices to digital engagements in order to accommodate the transformed conditions of everyday life, these artists imagine expansive forms of relation across distance and difference—across the mediated spaces of the internet, and through multispecies affinities and solidarities against capitalism, land theft, displacement, and genocide. Their projects move through love, wonder, mourning, and grief as collective and communal acts of fashioning a world that is more just and joyful than the one we inhabit now. They envision human-animal relations and collaborations across multiple scales, from the most personal to the world-historical, and ruminate on the generative possibilities of feral intimacies—or forms of connection untamed by heteronormative, colonial, and capitalist structures of family, kinship, and home. The ways of being together that SFHQ and Barber fantastically imagine are not meant to be fully comprehended or captured, but rather can inspire us toward transforming all our relations to be less alienated, damaging, or unsustainable.
our homes are inedible is a project by San Francisco–based artist Jeremiah Barber, newly commissioned for Feral Intimacies and extending the artist’s ongoing explorations of interspecies collaboration in the past and present. In this intermedia work, Barber speculatively hybridizes San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid with a termite mound, to transform it from a site that is synecdoche for global capitalist extraction and city-wide gentrification into a potential nexus of tentative yet tender connection. This project emerges in part from the artist’s efforts to listen and learn from termites. Deemed to be pests in the so-called developed world, termites are actually artists and designers of extraordinary environments capable of supporting life for many generations. They communicate nonverbally through incredible forms of percussive vibration and can mobilize quickly in response to threat or attack. Most importantly—and despite their diminutive stature—termites’ collective labor creates entire worlds that far exceed their individual capacities. Channeling the creative and connective efforts of termites, the windows of Barber’s structure reveal fleeting moments of the shared human and termite desire to survive in increasingly hostile living conditions. These windows include buried histories of the city’s former Manilatown and the decades-long fight to save the International Hotel; lessons in termite tapping and Morse code; and communiqués from a loose network of artists and activists across the United States, which serve as a pandemic-era documentation of our being alone, together. our homes are inedible makes monumental the life-sustaining labor of communication during crises and is an optimistic endeavor in listening otherwise.1
—Thea Quiray Tagle, Guest Curator
This is an interactive work that can be viewed on a computer’s web browser or a mobile device. On a computer, hover your mouse above each window of the Transamerica Pyramid to view interactive panels. The Volume On/Off button allows sound during video playback. On a mobile device, tap each window to view the panels, then touch anywhere on the screen to close them.
ABE — Alicia Escott, Artist, San Francisco
BBJ — Bonnie Jones, Composer, with Willa, Labrador Retriever, Providence, RI
BLL — Ben Leon, Artist, Oakland, CA
DRS — Dorothy Santos, Writer and Curator, San Francisco
HSS — Surabhi Saraf, Artist, Brooklyn
JCB — Jeremiah Barber, Artist, San Francisco
JUR — Jerome Reyes, Artist, San Francisco
JYZ — Jin Zhu, Artist, Richmond, CA
LCM — Laura Cerón Melo, Designer, Philadelphia
TQT — Thea Quiray Tagle, Curator, San Francisco
XEC — Xxavier Edward Carter, Artist, with PLU Plum, Domestic Cat, Mexico
!X! — moira williams, Artist, Long Island, NY
Jeremiah Barber is a visual artist who makes work about perception and communication. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA, and CUE Art Foundation, New York. In 2015 Barber received the Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation. He lives in San Francisco.
Thea Quiray Tagle, PhD, is a curator, art writer, and assistant professor of critical ethnic studies and gender and sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research and curatorial interests include socially engaged art and site-specific performance, visual cultures of violence, and creative modes of survivance across the Pacific. Her writing has been featured in venues including American Quarterly, ASAP/J, ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, and Hyperallergic.
Special Thanks To
Nicole Archer, Lyric Barber, Ed Fong and the Cathay Amateur Radio Club, Dorian Katz, Olivia Myers, Super Futures Haunt Qollective (F. Sam Jung, C. Ree & Angie Morrill), and Thea Quiray Tagle
1. Scott Camazine, “How Self-Organization Works,” in Camazine et al., Self-Organization in Biological Systems (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 24.
2. Home page, Cathay Amateur Radio Club (website), accessed June 1, 2021.
3. Juan A. Bonachela et al., “Termite Mounds Can Increase the Robustness of Dryland Ecosystems to Climatic Change,” Science 347, no. 6222 (2015): 651–55.
4. Philipp A. Nauer, Lindsay B. Hutley, and Stefan K. Arndt, “Termite Mounds Mitigate Half of Termite Methane Emissions,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 52 (2018): 13306–11.
5. “Fungal Symbiosis,” Termite Research, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, accessed June 1, 2021.
6. Thea Quiray Tagle. “Feeling the Manilatown and Fillmore Blues: Al Robles’s Politics and Poetics of Place,” Critical Ethnic Studies 3, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 99–125, https://doi.org/
7. “History,” The I-Hotel—San Francisco, accessed June 1, 2021.
8. Kurtis Alexander, “Buildings like S.F.’s Millennium Tower Are Causing the Bay Area to Sink under Their Weight,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 19, 2021.
9. Damian Carrington, “Plummeting Insect Numbers ‘Threaten Collapse of Nature,’” Guardian, February 10, 2019.
10. Hiya Swanhuyser, “The Transamerica Pyramid Used to Be a Cool Artists’ Colony—For, Like, a Hundred Years,” Curbed SF, January 3, 2017.
- On the work of imagining and feeling otherwise, Black feminist and Asian American studies scholars Ashon Crawley and Kandice Chuh, among many others, have written excellent guides. ↩