Earlier this year I collaborated with a group of artists to create an installation on censorship in China. We emphasized the culture’s orbit around calligraphy, where it is more than a learned skill, but quite often a tool of power, control, and social mobility.
As most things of value tend to be the process was slow. It relied heavily on the interdependence of artists’ concepts, words, and physical bodies. As collaborators, we agreed that the antithesis of censorship could only be resistance; a will to push back.
“Resilience is birthed from the slow burn of one’s will.”
We constructed the sphere from scavenger like a collection of press materials (i.e expired newspapers, rice papers, and newsprint) by applying layers of adhesive mixtures and water. Between layering, hardening and layering again, the construction alone took two weeks to form. We needed the sphere to be formidable enough to withhold the 24 oz of calligraphy ink we were planning to fill it with as well as contain the strength necessary to bear the weight of the aforementioned ink from a point of tension that it would hang from at nearly two feet. In other words, we needed it to be very resilient.
There was a stillness in the installation that I hadn’t anticipated; A quiet so gripping visually that I could only stand and watch as the wind swayed the sphere like a pendulum. The scale of it in comparison to the weightless sheets of rice papers below it amplified the immense sense of pressure that was felt from the sphere as it was seemingly held by mere threads.
A similar sentiment can be written of the experience of being censored and the experience of being silenced.
This concept of censorship is near to my personal interests in American history and brought to my remembrance the legislative tactics used to retain legal ownership of African bodies, voices, and freedoms. Having a voice is a particularly important issue in African American communities as historically, with their arrival as slaves in 1619, African Americans were not afforded the right to vote until the year 1870.
251 years being silenced.
This installation opened my mind to other forms that my concepts can take in the future. My predominant medium is drawing but, having studied multiple areas in Visual Arts, I have the ability to sculpt, to photograph, to film, and more.
I owe a lot of thanks to the other artists on this project for allowing me to collaborate with them in creating this quiet, thought-provoking work:
Working with this group of women was such a beautiful experience. It is my hope that we cross paths again in our careers and collaborate on another inspiring work of art.