Any time two people are in a space together, power differentials manifest. It’s an artifact of proximity.
One will be bigger, or stronger, or louder, or richer, or better educated. Or perhaps healthier. Their features and skin colors will differ. There will be differences in the way society sees and values each of them and in the way they see themselves through various cultural lenses.
There are other more subtle power differences too. One might be more patient than another. More persistent. More determined. Sometimes these traits are virtues. But not always.
What’s my responsibility as an artist in the face of these differentials?
I’ve come around to understanding that each of these moments of proximity, where difference is thrown into relief, is an opportunity to promote equity. To nurture it like a living thing.
There are ways of signaling and acknowledging safety, value, self-worth. There are ways of observing, listening, shifting focus, shifting what’s at the center.
I am thinking about how to lift up this work, and how it relates to the human-nature connection I am always exploring in my practice.
Perhaps I can start by saying: Any time two beings are in a space together, power differentials manifest. It’s an artifact of proximity.
This year I am approaching these questions and considerations in 2-D with work on images and text for the Human Nature Dictionary. This is a divergence from my often outdoor, 3-D, and participatory work, as I am recovering slowly from covid-19 and long-haul covid.
– March 2021