The First 100+ Days Exhibition at SPACES. Cleveland, OH.
Curated by: Christina Vassalo, 2017
(Photographs by Jerry Mann, courtesy of SPACES)
Black-eyed Women was inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-Winning book, 'The Refugees' by Author Viet Thanh Nguyen, who recently spoke about the fear of refugees in the West. Two quotes from it capture the focus of this work:
“In a country where possessions counted for everything, we had no belongings except our stories.”
“Writing was entering into fog, feeling my way for a route from this work to the unearthly world of words, a route easier to find on some days than others”.
-- Viet Thanh Nguyen, Refugees (2017)
Black-eyed Women addresses the refugee and immigrant experience in the U.S. specifically that of women and young girls. The choice to focus on women or women identified individuals, correlates with the focus of Home Affairs on feminist issues.
This project is both an installation and a public art work. Presented in the form of a word cloud, the primary video mixes two poems. The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus (1883) and SHAMM - Damascus, by Neveen Atik (2017). Separated by 134 years, each poem confronts the pain and longing of refugees. The poems become intertwined through a moving word cloud and are projected onto a street-facing 9' x 11' window of the gallery. The mesmerizing poems loop continuously throughout the evening disappearing in the light of day. Our hope was that it would evoke compassion for the massive human experience of displacement the world is currently experiencing.