Collaborators / Halima Cassells

ZCCD Research Resident 2018 recipient in collaboration with Njelele Art Station in Harare, Halima Cassells is an Interdisciplinary artist and community organizer with deep roots in Detroit. Much of her work is located at the intersection of social practice, visual art, and community building. To co-creators, or onlookers, she poses the questions “What is healthy interdependence? How do we assign value? And whose lenses are we looking through to circumscribe our reality?”

Her work and research are centered on finding community connection and resilient indigenous knowledge networks that are transcending pockets of time. In 2016 She collaborated with ZCCD in a swap and exchange micro event between Detroit and Harare on the other side of the exchange was Elizabeth and Theresa Muchemwa whose work moves across film, community engagement, poetry and writing.

This is perfect timing for Halima’s travel to Harare to explore her practice in a new context as Zimbabwe is now experiencing yet another acute macrocosmic failure of the capitalistic model of trade and commerce. She will experience the ways in which artists and families creatively meet their needs, keep culture alive, and thrive in community despite the economic collapse. She is interested in all the aspects of living in a thriving community and has experience with ‘alternative’ economic models such as: gifting circles, co-operatives, micro-lending programs, timebanks, and cryptocurrency models, as means to facilitate exchange. Halima‘s current practice is a reminder of the indigenous ways of exchange on which Zimbabwean culture is built.

Halima is a co-founder of the Free Market of Detroit. A multi-genre nomadic swap exchange where community members share goods, stories, information, and artistic modalities. Its based on sharing resources and countering over consumption, as well as challenging notions of value and disposability. This project has grown over the past seven years and will be documented in a forthcoming book, as well as in film. Halima has been actively involved in the Detroit art circles as a co-founder One M.I.L.E. project, exhibiting widely, and presenting at the N’Namdi Center, MOCAD, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Images from a Free Market organized at Cass Corridor Commons, 2015
Halima in the early years as one of the founders of North End Community Gardens in Detroit which since 2009  has expanded since.
(LEFT) Swap at NorthEnd, Detroit, USA    (RIGHT) Swap at National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare with Masimba Hwati and Zaza Muchemwa.
Co-founder, FreeMarketofDetroit
Advisor to:
interview w/ Jas, Cr8ive Minds, and City of Detroit