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Artist Writing: Gallery

GALLERY, Pittsburgh/San Francisco, 1992


Gallery is a construction of protest and memory. Presented in a climate of intense racial intolerance it seeks to embody an untenable state of existence. Taking the form of a shooting gallery it segregates the audience into human targets and shooters.

Gallery was conceived with the understanding that racial threat cannot be shared. In its selection of a “model minority” it seeks to expose an aura of hostility and stereotype currently existing against those of Asian descent. As a memorial to victims of racial violence it implicates and identifies a tension through its symbolic and interactive link with a traumatic reality.

In America, the invention of enemies as a means of directing public focus away from a thorough understanding of political and economic issues is not a new strategy. Targets are selected and racial scapegoats are tethered for a time to suffer an onslaught of orchestrated violence. Although this pathology is publicly denounced, its perpetual presence in society offers a conclusion that it is condoned by the existing economic and political leadership. Evidence of this can be found on all levels, from the bashing of a symbolic stand-in or effigy (such as a foreign car or other material commodities) to the reluctance to diffuse racial misconceptions of its minorities. The mechanics of such a structure that disembodies a responsibility to its citizens fosters attitudes that sanction social insanity: polarization, prejudice, violence to human beings and the resulting fragmentation of community.

Gallery intends to forcefully state this condition in order to engender a state of mind. Its physical dynamics will evolve from the atmosphere of carnival, with illusions that can mask serious issues, to a threshold of decision and then into a space deep within, charged with a psychological condition of threat.

“…a riot is the language of the unheard.”         Martin Luther King

Repeated civil unrest reveals the inadequacy of the existing society to listen to the painful message it carries. The violent actions of authority upon its citizens, the resulting destructive dissent and the equally disturbing response are repeated scenarios. As the end of the violence and the return to order (that never come) are awaited, continuing descriptions of the tense conditions can be laid forth. Artworks immersed in social criticism are foundations on which alternative and collective language beyond the ineffectual and divisive can be invented and learned. Gallery sets up a confrontational yet catalytic condition that provokes reaction. These reactions may be integrated into a larger voice and employed to respond to the brutal slurs of racism and bigotry.

Gallery will have simultaneous installations in San Francisco, California at the Capp Street Project and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Forums and information about Gallery will be initiated and compiled by the artist and sponsoring organizations.