They Watch You Thrive, Collaborative Series, 2021, PAO ARTS CENTER, BOSTON, MA

by Jhona Xaviera, Mel Taing, Micah Rose, Julissa Emile, payal kumar, Chanel Matsunami Govreau, and Jae Quisol

Installation by Chanel Matsunami Govreau
Photography by Mel Taing

They Watch You Thrive is an installation and collaborative series that summons the auras of our queer ancestors through folklore, ritual and communal care. Here, we seed the grounds for queer, gender-transcendent artists of color to cultivate what it means to thrive. 

In their floating soft sculptural installation, They Watch You Thrive (2020), Matsunami Govreau conjures the imagery of Japanese folklore monsters known as yokai to give life and form to the lost and hidden spirits of their queer ancestry. Throughout our series, the installation will serve as a gathering space and portal towards a communal and multicultural exploration of thrive. Bright, hopeful eyes watch our now and future while reminding us of our shared and unique pasts. Teeth and hair fiercely guard as we play in folkloric fantasy. 

During this exploratory and experimental series, we will gather here both publicly and privately to photograph, sing, dance, brew tea, hold workshops, and build altars for and with our chosen kin. We alchemize ashes of violence into nests for new worlds, where we feed each other as our birthright. 

This series is made possible by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation; and support from Arts Connect International, the Pao Arts Center and the Theater Offensive.

Jhona Xaviera

a multimedia chimæra.

As collective tenders of this space we channel the many spirits of our abundant diasporas to this installation. We summon, el Coquí y las Ciguapas, Galang Kaluluwa at tigmamanukan, Neang Neak, churails and rakshasas, Futakuchi Onna and Hyakume … We name and call on our lineages known and unknown: Bayoguin and Obeah women. We conjure all who cisheteropatriarchy deems ‘monstrous’ to embrace our multiplicitous and infinite selves. 

Julissa Emile

They Watch you Thrive, Installation, 2021, Chanel Matsunami Govreau
At Pao Arts Center, Boston, MA
Photography by Mel Taing