Issue Fifteen: Tools, Use, Mastery

Guest edited by matt lambert

Re-Tooling, Re-Using, Un-Mastering

Tools, use and mastery. When arranged and rearranged with each other these terms allow for exploring the trajectories of how we define and use them and the complex and entangled ways they are used. Each contributor touches on what defines a tool, or how it can be used, and in what ways this helps reach a point of understanding. 

Included in the call for this issue was the well-known quote from Audre Lorde, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Responding to this, Lewis R. Gordon and Jane Anna Gordon state.

“There are those who used those tools, developed additional ones, and built houses of their own on more or less generous soil. It is our view that the proper response is to follow their lead, transcending rather than dismantling Western ideas through building our own houses of thought. When enough houses are built, the hegemony of the master’s house—in fact, mastery itself—will cease to maintain its imperial status. Shelter needn’t be the room offered by such domination.” [1]

It is in this response that I find energy. For me, the quote contains a vibration calling us to awareness of the systems we operate in and encouraging us to find ways of subverting them while finding other possibilities of existing. As theorist Irit Rogoff says, it is the actions we try to do with one arm while we are treading the waters of systems asking us to conform [2]. I recognize that this issue does not present radicality as abrupt loud gestures but instead offers small nudges and gestures that are done mostly within the walls of institutions, set systems and hierarchies. This edition becomes a small proposal, an arrow if you will, pointing to horizons. I also acknowledge that the contributors and workers who created this publication have done so with no economic incentive, thus creating a limitation on the possible diversity and expanse these pages could hold. Nonetheless, this edition optimistically attempts to act as a small stone on a path for others to move towards transcending.  

Contributions range from poetry, historical reflections, deep dives into process, pedagogical and production development, and makers sharing images of work. The pieces could be taken at first as unrelated and disparate but by putting them together following the concept of constellation making allows for a multi-faceted edition with multiple access points. What brings this edition together is a focus on body to use and examining when and where something becomes a tool.  I hope this edition gives you something familiar, something unknown, and possibly something to push against. Contributions have been brought together across and on national borders and professional fields. Allowing for yet more facets to be placed and access to be given. 

Craft as a field, a word, a concept has contributed to the building of worlds. With those worlds came beauty and horror. Where we stand today craft holds a complexity, it is a word that is a useful companion to think about and through history, body, and the act of making. Craft is a way to see bodies, people, material, and process. Craft is a tool to turn history into historiography.  It was my goal that this edition could become a useful tool, another constellation point. A resource that I encourage you when used to let the contributors know, as writers in these discourses so rarely know where their words resonate beyond a citation economy. So enjoy, dear reader, the contributions are presented in no specific order, and I urge you to make your own way. Choose to walk the line of the index or dance and jump across titles making your own constellations as you go.     

[1] Gordon, Lewis R., and Jane Anna Gordon. Not Only the Master’s Tools: African- American Studies in Theory and Practice. London: Routledge, 2016

[2]  This is a rewording of Irit Rogoffs answer to an audience question after her lecture Becoming Research at Sonic Acts.  Irit Rogoff: Panel Discussion, YouTube (YouTube, 2019),


matt lambert is a non-binary, trans, multidisciplinary collaborator and co-conspirator working towards equity, inclusion, and reparation. lambert is interested in the relationship of body, object and place and the movements or constellations that form between these points. It is in the inhabited of these queer [and/or] liminal spaces that these interactions gain their strength as a force that is yet to be fully explored for its potential as a terroristic act to westernized and colonial institutions. lambert collaborates with multi-media artists of a vast array of disciplines to reconfigure the current cultural systems of queerness and body politics while challenging the boundaries of craft. By unpacking the witnessing of toxic intimacies and the embedded systems of oppression rooted into the geological strata of culture and land, lambert is interested in ways to disrupt and subvert these mechanisms through a chimerical practice of making, collaborating, writing and curating to create systems for platform building and methodologies to talk with and not at in regards to the othered body.

Instagram: @matt_lambert_studio

Header image courtesy of matt lambert