No Its Broken For Me Too, 2010

Participants: Zaydoon Ali, Zaid Balasim, Mohammed Basim, Rachel Bernstein, George Bixby, Melanie Crean, Chris Crews, Alaa Dhiaa, Huong Ngo, Gabrielle Guglielmelli, Julio Hernandez, Kimberly Hogan, Jessica Jaffe, Lauren Larken, Hasan Nasir, Grant Noel, Andrew Persoff, Ayoush Qais, Ali Salim Abood, Rafal Usama and Or Zubalsky.

No Its Broken For Me Too was an exchange conducted during the summer of 2010 between a group of students from The New School and The University of Baghdad.  The project investigated the role of language and power in the class room, and how education systems might be used to foster change, freedom of speech and human rights. The conversations inadvertently began to address the nature of online communication: at once amazing for its ability to reach across cultural boundaries, but fraught with technical difficulties in an era of multiple platforms and electricity outages. Transcripts from the discussion can be found here. After a month of discussions, the participants chose topics from the conversations to pursue in three artworks:

I Can See the Road But Dare Not Speak its Name
Tamara Chehayeb Makarem, Melanie Crean, Rafal Usama, Hasan Nasir, Zaid Al Nasiri
I Can See the Road But Cannot Speak its Name investigates the portrayal of female subjectivity in postwar Iraq.  In an international media environment where Iraqi people are often represented by men and traditional women in veils, how do young Iraqi women seek to portray themselves to an outside world which considers them invisible?  The gaze that observes them is not only predominantly male, but also objectifying, assuming a standardized portrayal of Middle Eastern Woman.  The text chosen to complement the photos are words of longing, addressing an unknown audience, who might be a lover, the future identity of the writer herself, or the future identity of her country.

AndLongingIs_detailAnd Longing Is No Longer Speaks
Rachel Bernstein, Gabrielle Guglielmelli, Julio Hernandez, Kimberly Hogan, Huong Ngo, Grant Noel, Andrew Persoff, Or Zubalsky
Beginning with an exploration of Immigration and Human Rights, And Longing Is No Longer Speaks juxtaposes the portrayal of immigrants in the media with excerpts of poems and stories from those who have recently been displaced. Nearly invisible text serves as a poignant metaphor for the invisible struggle of immigrants in the United States and abroad and the stories that go untold of the loss of home, sense of security, and community that continues to happen well after the official war is over.

NoItsBroken_detailNo Its Broken, Broken For Me Too
George Bixby, Melanie Crean, Chris Crews, Jessica Jaffe
No Its Broken, Broken For Me Too explores the notion of ‘free speech’ through textures in a type based composition.  The United States and Iraqi constitutions, the codification of legal control over speech, form the background layers. Formatting is removed, portraying the basis of our two governments as neatly bounded information, representing the utopian nature of how speech should be protected in an ideal world.  Contrasted with these idealized boundaries are ragged columns of text, excerpted from skype conversations between Iraqi and American students.  Efforts to discuss free speech are frequently punctuated by technical difficulties.  The most prominent element of the composition are personal stories from students in both countries, portraying the very visceral reality of how speech is experienced in every day life.