Opening Reception Friday, July 1, 5:00-8:00pm
Hang in There is a multi-media project that revisits America’s past to gauge how far we have come since then. Through sound, motion-activated technology, and the sight of cotton hanging from a glass jar, this project confronts the complicated reality of racism which many African Americans have experienced – and continue to struggle against – for a long time in America.
Designed as an interactive experience, Hang in There activates as viewers come closer to the objects in the exhibition. For example, the sound of a former slave reverberates off a single glass jar in the exhibition then, once a viewer’s presence is detected, a secondary disembodied sound of a man describing the many ways to whip a Bull becomes activated as well. Slashing through the space and echoing off the bodies of the persons within the exhibit, the whipping sounds of the Bullwhip heightens the overall viewing experience. Surrounded by such soundscapes, which are triggered by action and movement, the viewing participant become implicated in the reality in front of them. In this manner, the viewer is given full control – and therefore the responsibility – over the traumatic story unfolding in front of them. Moreover, they are encouraged to consider the weight of their presence and the impact it may have on the history which confronts them.
Hang in There is a brief intervention on the notion that time and history alone will fix the problems of our society. While black folks today are no longer forced through the institution of slavery to pick cotton or give up their dignity in exchange for food and shelter, it is still the case that many of them are harassed by those in position of power, economically castrated, and, without the necessary tools to carve their own path, subjected to the oppressive nature of racism.
Rather than waiting for the long arch of history to bend towards justice, Hang in There radically questions our present moment and future possibilities as Americans. Created in response to recent examples of racism and white supremacy in Buffalo New York and elsewhere in America, Hang in There interrogates whether America is ready to abandon divisiveness for unity. Designed to function as a mirror to what our American past once was, this project reminds us of the stain racism and hatred has had – and continues to have – on our collective American identity. If we ignore our past and the contemporary issues that are raised in this exhibition then the less chance we all have in moving beyond the racial issue. Hang in There therefore presents us with a rare opportunity to refocus our ideals and values so that we could begin to heal and take control of the kind of reality we would like to see for generations to come. Special thanks to the leadership and staff at CEPA Gallery for their support in creation of this project.