Skin, 2018

Mixed media participatory installation & performance

Novilla - center for art, creativity & exchage, Berlin, Germany

 

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

Performers: Maya Gomez, Brianne Curran and Till Schmidt-Rimpler

 

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.

 

Examining the complexities of how we share values - unify and polarize communities. 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.

  

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.