One's Own & Others' Otherness (2018) / A Social Assemblage (2019)
These two projects began with a provocation offered by two artworks made subsequent to fortuitously concurrent residencies at Arquetopia, Puebla, Mexico in 2015: Massey University Senior Lecturer Richard Reddaway's "Ahora,Vea Aqui" and Wichita State University Professor Robert Bubp's "Las Callas Publicas." At a point in Bubp's video installation, a Mexican street protester flips off the artist recording the scene, and his, and by extension our, comfort crashes into uncertainty. He, we, become "othered", our white, male, neo-colonial privilege revealed. And this mirrors the staging of the event "Ahora, Vea Aqui" with a group of young, working-class, mostly indigenous Pueblans. Where they audience or participants? How were the hierarchies at play in both works disrupted, transformed, by the
In these exhibitions, participants have been invited to consider the dynamics at play in socially engaged practice. The invitation is to explore through making ways of understanding power and its lack: for some the possibility of losing privilege through others' empowerment, and for others the dismal prospect of "business as usual" decaying further into the grim reality of racism, sexual abuse and other expressions of power. How can, how does, making things together work to construct community, even a community of difference? And particularly one that recognises the importance of the "promotion of an ecology of knowledges combined with intercultural translation" in the recognition of the significance of our own and others' otherness, to cite Boaventura de Sousa Santos' "Epistemologies of the South"?
Participants collaborated on building odd, improvisational, and sometimes wearable sculptures that also played sounds of their daily existences alongside sounds recorded by Robert, a tourist to this land. Things were built, painted, unbuilt, painted over, re-glued, re-recorded, and assembled to just enough structural balance.