Manifestea approaches tea as a common yet plural point of entry into the grey zones of decolonial action and imagination. To consider the homogeneous representation of tea as it has persisted in postcoloniality, we deep-dive into the process of a colonialoscopy; how does tea address various historical and contemporary practices of hegemony, erasure and assimilation? Here, tea harnesses its past and current encounters with empire and capital without re-entrenching its traumatic afterlives. Instead, it extends a fluid platform for democratic and intersectional participation in dissent.

As an experimental collective, Manifestea proposes a tea-rapeutic space that connects diverse yet closely tied global experiences of systemic and direct violences in relation to their local sites of resistance. In its current, emergent form, Manifestea does not presume to fully, critically engage every social, cultural, economic, personal and political dimension of tea. Our interventions around tea remain speculative and particularly welcome to challenge and renewal. An open-ended exploration very much in the gestation period, we tentatively and tenderly map and archive the bodies, geographies and knowledges that shape the colonial circulations and legacies of tea as a commons.

We exercise our right to assembly and to assemble a body of collaborative and multiple knowledges, an antibody that in turn defends and upholds the power of the multitude. You are invited to reclaim ownership of the information we often receive and take for granted from the innocuous little tag dangling at the ends of any regular teabag. In any language or form you prefer, you are empowered to rename and rewrite the story of your tea and your struggle from the lens of a cause that truly matters to you, one that you have taken action on or will rise up for. As an alternative mode of continuous and caring protest against specific issues of concern, Manifestea works to make visible and actionable distinct perspectives of the oppressed that transform the scope and nature of decolonization at every turn. Where community participants can now bring their own visions and plans for decolonial justice along with a cup for tea, Manifestea seeks to perform the reparative and restorative potentials of tea as a means toward collective agency and inclusion.

This project is a result of a workshop led by Sampson Wong on October 13th, 2017, on crowd creation, the afterlives of protest objects and the occupation of public space in and beyond the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Co-presented by the Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects, Art History, Theory & Criticism, Visual & Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
manifestea was in action  from October 21st - 27th, 2017, 12:00pm-7:00pm, at the Chicago Design Museum, Block 37, 108 N. State St., 3/F, Chicago, IL 60602.