2–3 minute read, or the amount of time it takes to pick out some fresh flowers.
What can nature teach us about mutual aid and collective transformation? In navigating an increasingly digital world, what can we learn from the algorithms developed by other living things to support themselves and others? For this issue, we asked multimedia artist and DIY publishing extraordinaire Mother Cyborg to create a pocket-sized zine (it’s downloadable and printer-friendly!) of lessons she’s learned from encountering other living organisms in her garden and community. Magic Within beckons readers to admire and seek out models of organizing and support in their own surroundings.
The Magic Within is a zine that looks at transformational relationships. The zine is a documentation of the lessons I learned on a healing journey that took place between the fall of 2018 and spring of 2021 in which I was seeking the science of forgiveness. A journey that was set in motion by desire to be rid of the pain that lingered from a deep depression that was nearly two years old. I was looking for a magic formula that would release the anger and sadness that comes with love.
[ID: video shows a hand holding the folded zine and flipping through the pages while electronic music plays in the background. The front of the zine shows a small circular icon of Mother Cyborg wearing cyclops glasses, repeated in geometrical fractal like designs across the page. Page 2: In black and white, an image of a chrysalis on a branch. Several of the fractal images from the cover move across the page. Text reads “the changing butterfly shows us the magic within self-transformation. Page 3: An intricate black and white line drawing of corn, squash and beans growing together. Here and there, a single shade of green fills in the image in blotches. Text reads “The Three Sisters, an indigenous planting system of corn, beans and squash, shows us the magic of mutual-aid within abundance.” Page 4: An abstract black and white line drawing represents lichen. Text reads “Lichen, an organism that is algae and fungi living in a symbiotic relationship, shows us the magic of multiplicity within the both and.]
I began gardening looking to nature for evidence of this magic. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Detroit in the spring of 2020, a little over a year into my healing journey, I still had no answers and no evidence to show for my work, but did have a massive garden that could feed nearly seven families. I gave up looking for forgiveness and opened my garden as a healing space for my relationships since it helped me so much the year prior. All summer we weeded, swam, harvested, and chased butterflies together — sometimes talking about our past, but mostly making new memories in the present. When fall came around we celebrated our newfound love with a barbecue and flower arranging competition.
As I reflect upon that journey, I realize that it was during the process of looking at the magic within each relationship when forgiveness was able to emerge. It wasn’t a series of acts or one specific ritual, it was the act of making time and space to see each other that opened new moments for relation.
[ID: Mother Cyborg, a young Latinx woman, stands under a gigantic sunflower. She is surrounded by a rainbow halo and is looking up in amazement at the sunflower. Her shirt says bring back the neighbor to the hood.]
She // Her // Hers
Diana J Nucera, aka Mother Cyborg, is a multimedia artist who uses music, performance, DIY publishing, community organizing tactics, and popular education methods to elevate collective technological consciousness and agency. At the age of eight, Diana taught herself piano and cello. After her performances playing live music to abstracted videos of thunderstorms and sunrises left audiences in tears, Diana realized the power of art, media, and technology to facilitate collective emotional experiences.