Mixed media participatory installation & performance
Novilla - center for art, creativity & exchage, Berlin, Germany
Performers: Maya Gomez, Brianne Curran and Till Schmidt-Rimpler
for opening of Feindbild (Image of an Enemy) group exhibition/performance project in Berlin, Germany
Supported in part by the Treptow-Köpenick District Office, Department of Culture and Museums, and the Partnership for Democracy, Schöneweide, Berlin.
installation: hand-painted Joss paper; boxing gloves covered in tree bark; plane tree branches and bark
Through representations of nature, religion and ancestral rituals, I explore personal, biological and societal processes of protection.
The installation has three main visual elements:
Past - Joss paper
Traditional Chinese Joss paper is used in prayers, for the purpose of ancestor worship. The paper must be burned and is intended to be symbolic gifts for the afterlife, in which ancestors return in kindness, prosperity & protection to the living. Each of the 221 hand-painted gold and red pages within the arch represents a family generation—a portal into 5000 years of customs and ancestry.
Present - tree bark
Trees temporarily shed their protective skin to renew, survive and grow. In so doing, they rid themselves of toxins and disease. During the process, they are vulnerable and “naked”.
In this work, the shed bark can be seen to evoke societal diseases: systematic inequality and habitual behaviors that protect and cultivate prejudice and injustices. Over the four-week exhibition, visitors are encouraged to participate in "breaking" the fallen bark with their hands. Together with Joss paper, the broken bark will be burned at the exhibition’s closing performance, becoming ash and dust.
Social identity - the cross with boxing gloves
Community, belonging and shared values are central in the formation of our social identities.
Oftentimes, social identity is steeped in religious community. Examining the complexities of organized religion sheds light on how we unify and polarize each other. At times, we create “hostile” or “threatening” images of enemies, which divides us into groups based on certain values; we want to belong to “the good”, and protect ourselves from “the bad” group(s) of others. Distrust, unrest and discrimination are perpetuated when we perceive that our values, security and survival are jeopardized by “evil” others.
Jesus died on the cross for all human sins—an innocent man on behalf of the guilty—shedding his skin/body/life to ascend thereafter.
He was betrayed and killed by [fill in the blanks]. His message was to love our enemies and those who hate and persecute us—a difficult task.
The boxing gloves hung from the cross serve to negotiate the struggles between all three of the installation’s elements.
Many thanks to Berlin District Mayor Oliver Igel (Treptow-Köpenick) for coming out to preview my new installation, SKIN for the Feindbild Kunst project. He will be giving a talk on the subject of 'image of an enemy' and his perspective as to how we as a community can come to terms with hatred and prejudice in a functioning democracy at the closing event on Sept 15 at 7pm.