Created in 2016, Unilalia is a portmanteau combing the Latin unus with the ancient Greek laliá – together, this word loosely translates into "one tongue [language]" . It refers to a growing, new underground art and aesthetic movement developing in the Seattle and greater Puget Sound region with its roots in Oakland, California .This preface is intended to provide context and ontological validity to its conceptualization as a movement rather than another duplicative, idiosyncratic preoccupation of underground artists. First and foremost, Unilalianism is a project in decolonization, but in the domain of consciousness – being of Black and Coharie ancestry, my frame of reference and orientation towards the applied arts and deviance theory in general has always been rooted in surviving and resisting structural and interpersonal racism, throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. In all of this, I learned to dissect and understand what was happening to me, using my own analytical devices and this has led me to the fundamental conclusion that colonization, at its foundation, is a linguistic and semiotic program before anything else. Language is central to the articulation, construction, and imposition of reality – leveraging this realization must be central to any effort in radical antiracist and countercultural work.
Our general mantra: a new word potentiates a new reality, independent of the cultural impositions demanded under the colonial paradigm – in its most idealized form, we see one approach to decolonization as the deliberate construction of these offshoot realities. Unilalia is one example. As an organization, listed below are a couple of our current initiatives.
INITIATIVE 001 – ACCELERATING THE UNDERGROUND
Accelerating the underground means maximizing its efficiency and accessibility – this organization has elaborated the application of this thesis through establishing the ongoing Unilalia Live! event series here in the Seattle area. Each iteration is an invitation to selected underground artists to showcase and perform their work – we designed our pathways to performing to be as frictionless as possible. There is no pay-to-play model, no booking intermediary, no internal politics, no contingencies, and no bullshit – our concern is about facilitating culturally valuable events at the lowest cost, providing space for the cultivation of new associations among artists while generating win-win situations for all parties involved, prioritizing the enrichment of the scene and collectivity over individual gains. In this respect, the Unilalia Group is not representative of a clique or an art collective – it is more so a technology, a servant of the arts and service to the underground that is managed and applied by a very small team of result-driven, action-oriented artists. Our selection process prioritizes diversity, merit, and talent over clout and social currency – we are not a capital or profit driven organization, at least not in the traditional sense. We understand how and why making the consolidation of social currency your guiding principle only alienates artists, devaluing the scene in the long-run.
INITIATIVE 002 – BULIDING SUBCULTURAL CONTEXT
Building subculture is very closely related to building community. Without disclosing the details of our tactical approach, the completion of this initiative is a natural byproduct of successively completing the first one, as listed above.
– Ellis Wilson, cofounder