I make art to communicate – to ask questions, challenge the problematic, fight injustice. I work in whatever format will successfully communicate whatever concept is speaking to me. Devastated by Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory, I started exploring protest art because it’s how I’m able to fight. If I were a lawyer, I would litigate and if power is going to shift we need to fight on every front we have – cultural, legal, financial, etc. Performance and art are appealing as methods of protest because they’re generally more dynamic than traditional forms, requiring less organization and fewer participants than boycotts or marches. They are also excellent ways to enhance a protest!
On November 4th 2019, on the eve of an off-year Election Day, my site-specific installation "Easy Credit" appeared over Main Street in downtown Houston - directly across from the Harris County Tax Office. The piece was a critique of Trump and his cozy relationship with tyrants and dictators to whom he grants "easy credit" whether they're denying tampering in our elections like Putin, promising a cease-fire like Turkey's Erdoğan, or denying the order to execute a journalist like Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This pattern of international corruption was on full display during the impeachment hearings and will continue until Biden’s inauguration. “Easy Credit” prompted a community-wide conversation in one of America’s largest cities. It made the news and I even received death threats! WOOT! But the expense of materials, travel, and labor (assistance on structural and safety issues, plus the install carpentry, etc. - I pay fairly and feed my crew!) added up to over $6000 for "Easy Credit".
I’m an accidental activist. 2016 was monumental for my path as an artist but I’ve always been interested in politics. The first writing assignment I really aced was a letter to the White House in eighth grade demanding an end to the electoral college. That was 1998 and we all know what happened in 2000 (and again in 2016). Bush v. Gore, the Invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib - all of these contributed to my radicalization.
Traveling also had a huge impact on me. Before moving to New York to focus on my creative career, I devoted myself to traveling the world. I’ve been to over 40 countries and as many states - all of which exposed me to societies across the political spectrum. I’ve been to Auschwitz six times – it’s devastating but there are also exhilarating examples of prisoner resistance. The South Africa Act of 1909 disenfranchised the non-white majority ultimately leading to Apartheid in 1948 and those first restrictions are visible to the casual observer glancing at school photos between 1909 and 1910. It's astonishing and one of the best reasons to exercise your precious voting rights! During party chatter in Turkey, brilliant and seemingly cynical people will tell you unprovoked that it wasn’t a genocide (of Armenia) – state sponsored propaganda works devastatingly well.
Greatest of all, perhaps is the fact that I am the daughter of a former child refugee. I’ve long been acutely aware that the absurd accident of my birth provided me with more privilege, like food security, than my mother had when she was born in the ruins of World War II who was sent to the USA under harsh conditions by a parent desperate for his children to escape Soviet oppression. I’m obsessed with the ways in which governments arbitrarily impact the lives of their citizens and people around the world. The last four years have made that more clear than ever and Covid-19 has really further exacerbated long-standing disparities in the world which we must all fight against.
Most recently, I volunteered as a cross-country team member for two initiatives which were part of The Center for Artistic Action ’s Unstoppable Voters Post Election Edition - “Cheer The Count ” and “Project Your Vote .” I travelled from Brooklyn to Philadelphia for these efforts and my work was included in Culture Surge’s Content Hub. This work was supported by The Center for Cultural Power, MoveOn, and others.
Trump has been voted out of office but the work continues! There is rampant voter suppression and gerrymandering disenfranchising voters. The Electoral College still needs to be abolished - and so do a lot of other systems! The Patriarchy and White Supremacy aren’t going to dismantle themselves and until serious action is taken on climate change - there will always be a fight. (Just to name a few.) I appreciate your support to help me close the chapter on my Trump-related work and as I press on with new projects to address gender-based violence, police brutality, and bodily autonomy. Thank you!
- larry fallon
- donna hoke
- Jane Terrana
- Elizabeth Evans
- Jimmy Cole
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