In the previous blog posts, I described and contextualized “The Great Boston Wall of Gentrification.” The act of protest art was just one example of how one can place art in the public realm to question, undermine, the established order. Yet the question remains, how can such a small act of public defiance enact substantive change? In the following blog post I will thus describe my personal methodology of creating works of resistance/art. These works will be placed in the context of Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive. Step by step, I will methodically outline the different elements of my artistic practice. These steps will also serve as a broader outline that I will use to structure this blog and my future resistance. Eventually, I will invite people to join me in creating acts of social/artistic resistance. My own process is simply a flexible recipe that others can appropriate, transform, and use to change structures of systematic violence and hierarchy.
The general mission of Weaving the Streets is to focus “on the diverse ways in which ordinary people around the world use public space to express themselves.” It was created to collect a public database of the shifting, and ever changing actuality of the streets. Artists have used the streets for centuries as a public platform where they can project their vision of the world, inject their art into the creation of reality. The streets come to symbolize an open space, a location that is (supposedly) free for all of us, available for general access. It is the morphing, interconnected zone, where different realities meet, weaving together to create the fabric of our society. By placing art in this middle, transitory realm, one can shape the environments that people must transverse, cross. The streets are thus liquid borders, membranes, the interconnected joints where classes, ethnicities, and ideologies clash, coexist and transform. It is the platform where we can stand and speak out, questioning the systematic authority.
In creating work under the umbrella of Weaving the Streets & People’ History Archive I am at once a collector and a creator. The objects that I collect and document serve as source material for the actions I then perform in the public realm. Thus the street is my palette and my canvas, where I attempt to literally weave together subversive memories, resurrecting realities that have been overlooked by the mainstream media and official history. In the Dissecting Boston series, I explore the unseen forces that have been drawn, and are currently shaping the cultural topography of Boston. As mentioned previously, these lines mirror the larger walls erected around American identity and the political dragnets that are policing these boundaries.
In tackling such a complicated issue in the public realm, one must be cautious. The most dangerous faction of this process is oneself. We all have our own innate positionality, subjectivity, which imposes itself on our research, findings, and actions. Individuals are crisscrossed by their own borderlines, partitioned into a myriad of identities, cultures, and personal histories. Before creating art, it is thus necessary to acknowledge this baggage, the fault lines that partition one’s individual perspective. Yet, another danger arises after the work of art, journalism, scholarly research has been created. It is hazardously easy for the work to be left, abandoned. A work, of any shape, size or medium, once released in the public sphere, tends to gravitate to the circles of thought that mirror its culture and ideology. For one’s work not to spiral in concentric ideological circles (now often dictated by advertising algorithms), it is necessary to discuss one’s work in places outside of one’s comfort zone.
To address all the issues mentioned above, I created a recipe for myself and others who would like to undertake a similar endeavor. This recipe tackles the complicated process of dissecting borders, and the intricacies of weaving together decided realities. While I wrote the different steps in poetic prose, I will further explain and contextualize the different statements in following blogs.
Recipe for Dissection:
1) Internal Borders: Analyze yourself, your reflection. The mirrors of your personal representation.
2) Undo Your Projections: Focus/look at the impact of your sight. The act of seeing. How does projecting retweet the act of killing?
3) Remember: Look back. Study your community, the lines that have faded, need to be resurrected. Made visible. Reinvigorated. Carefully restated.
4) Create: Outline the discarded visions. Place. Inject context. Weave together a new tapestry, a new reality/identity.
5) Unweave Borders in Conversation: Share. Bring people together. Listen. Discuss in a cacophony. Never speak when you can pay attention.
6) Cooperate: Coordinate. Link conversations. Build in unison.
7) Turn Back In: Borders/linkages broken, rewoven.
In this blog, I will continually follow these steps to dissect the borders that transect my own subjectivity, the history of Boston, and lines that cut the face of American Identity. The next step in my process (Step #1) will be to come to terms with my positionality. To encompass this task, I will perform a spoken word poem, which I will record and present in the next post. The piece will question my own perceptions, my own projections. Before tackling the larger borders that surround me physically, I will turn to the borders within. I invite anyone to follow along with this process, whether by outlining the borders that divide their own community or by filming similar videos in which they explore the frames from which they look at society. Feel free to share your dissections with me on Twitter @hackerbirdy or by email at hackerbirdy [at] riseup [dot] net. It is our responsibility to come to terms with the borders surrounding our own reality and make them visible. All it takes is a strand of yarn, a piece of chalk and the desire to reject the walls we impose on our own reality. While we may be cut by invisible walls, we need to remember one simple fact: we are all weavers.