Programs Coded Language


  • Date:
    Feb 22, 2024
  • End Date:
    Feb 22, 2024
  • Time:
    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Location:
    The Africa Center
    1280 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10029
    United States (map)

“Coded Language”

An Interactive Writing Workshop with Shameekia Shantel Johnson

In-person Program
The Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall
1280 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10029 United States (map)
Thursday February 22nd, 2024 | 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Doors open at 6:30PM; workshop begins at 7:00PM

*Seats are limited. Registration is required.

Join us at The Africa Center on Thursday, February 22nd at 7PM, for “Coded Language”, an interactive writing workshop that reflects upon the cultivation of new language systems emerging from gestures, codes, symbols, and other text-based signifiers that stem from various linguistic traditions, from ancient Sumerian cuneiforms to 20th-century musical compositions to digital shorthand. By reflecting upon select works, including Charles Gaines’ artworks, Fred Moten’s writings, and Cecil Taylor’s music, participants will create new forms of communication designed to subvert forces of control. By centering covert language models that thrive in the state of fugitivity, “Coded Language” meditates upon the connective tissues of collective consciousness, empathy, intuition, and quietude that aid in preserving cultures and beliefs constantly under siege. This program is informed by the need to preserve and bury ideas and culture underground during a time of mass surveillance, semantic policing, and cultural

“Coded Language” engages in shush poetics: a practice of maroonage that protects, takes, and maintains information for subaltern communities to ensure resources that empower people at the margins. And for the sake of the “shhh” part of “shush,” there may not be a digital archive to refer to. Instead, there will be a physical (re)telling and (re)exposure of this concept through ephemera and presentations shared in select public spaces.


Shameekia Shantel Johnson is a writer, curator, and researcher of Afro-Caribbean descent based in New York City. She received a BS in Art History and Museum Professions from The Fashion Institute of Technology. Johnson works from a critical framework of social architecture, in which she considers the multidimensional relationship between people, politics, narrative, and environment. Her curatorial contributions include black beyond: _assembly, alchemy, ascension (2022) at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Gallery of the New School; black beyond: _origins (2021) on New Art City; and The Complexity and Cost of Identity No. 1 (2021), staged at HOUSING. Johnson’s bylines include SEEN Journal, Forgotten Lands, Hyperallergic, Lucy Writers Platform, and Studio Museum Magazine. She has been featured in It’s Nice That and Cult Classic. Johnson is the creator of Poetry Room, a multidisciplinary platform where she explores the poetics of language, sound, visual art, movement, and design. Poetry Room programs may take shape as open mics and performances held in art institutions and alternative gathering spaces.

Register Today!