Sunday, November 22, 2009

Down The Rabbit Hole Artist Statement

It is easy to dismiss acts of social injustice that occur globally and even in our own backyard. We live in a world that often turns a blind eye to adversity and seem to be complacent when personally unaffected. Psychic numbing, according to Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times, refers to “a deprivation of compassion, a deadening of feelings that occurs when one is confronted with appalling images, facts, or statistics that overwhelm the mind. It takes a concentrated effort to stay up on global happenings, let alone what is going on in our own neighborhood.” Author and Professor Walter Brueggemann states, “Clearly, human transformative activity depends upon a transformed imagination. Numbness does not hurt like torture, but in a quite parallel way, numbness robs us of our capability for humanity.”

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. 27 million people are enslaved today. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to forced and coerced sexual exploitation or forced labor. It can include various forms of involuntary servitude such as work in quarries, sweatshops and farms, enslavement of child soldiers, and prostitution. Researchers say 80 percent of human trafficking victims are female and half are children. The federal government says it is second only to the drug trade as an international criminal industry.

Down the Rabbit Hole is an art installation collaborated by artists Jonathan Fung, Monika Lea Jones, Mark Lee, Erik Otto, and Brandon Robinson. The art installation was located at 357 Ellis Street, in the heart of the Tenderloin District of San Francisco and graphically depicted a realistic environment of a working/living space of a young girl that was a hostage of sex slavery.

As a metaphor for stolen childhood and loss of innocence, guests were initially confronted by an infant’s crib that included a video projection of an innocent girl playing in the park on a swing, monkey bars and a merry-go-round. In the adjacent room, magazine cutouts of American pop culture brood over a bare, putrid mattress. A stash of penicillin, ''morning after' pills” and condom wrappers are among the remnants that lingered along the nightstand and across the hard, cold floor. A continuous loop of Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole played in black and white on an old television to symbolize non-escapism. The realistic and abstract sound design created a haunting vibe that served to further affect the viewer’s emotional state.

Guests left Down the Rabbit Hole feeling suffocated, heartbroken, uncomfortable and disturbed, but hopefully they were moved to a call for action about the human trafficking issue that looms over San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area. Each guest received a blindfold as they exited with printed websites of agencies we have partnered with who fight in the trenches against this horrific travesty.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

viewing schedule

“Down The Rabbit Hole”, (YWAM building) - 357 Ellis Street

M-F, 11-3pm, call Katie at 415.885.6543 for an appointment; Sat, 11-3 pm, drop by

Jonathan Fung, Monika Jones, Mark Lee, Erik Otto, Brandon Robinson

Partners & Special Thanks

Down the Rabbit Hole Partners

Special Thanks

Alf Pollard

City Impact

Colin Day Photography

Community Benefit District

Fern Silva

Fight Club

Katie Greenawalt

Lance Fung

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

San Francisco Grant for the Arts

Santa Clara University, College of Arts & Sciences, Dean's Grant

Tim Svoboda

Youth With A Mission (YWAM)

a call to action!

In August 2008, I was introduced to human trafficking after attending the Willow Creek Summit Leadership Conference. Prior to the conference, I was naive to the subject but was extremely inspired by listening to Gary Haugen's story, President and CEO of International Justice Mission (, an international human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression worldwide. I felt personally challenged to do something instead of allowing my stirred up emotions to dissipate. I honestly didn't know where to begin because human trafficking is such an overwhelming global social justice issue.

I have always believed that one person can make a difference so I instinctively began praying to God to receive some direction where to jump in. I needed to get more informed and educated so I read "Just Courage" by Gary Haugen to gain more insight about how he got involved. I was encouraged to see the film, Call and Response, directed by musician Justin Dillon, where musicians used their passion and talent to create a benefit concert to spread awareness on human trafficking. This film has inspired me to use my gift as a filmmaker and visual artist to do something like Justin. The real catalyst has been seeing girls the same age as my 5-year old daughter being forced to have oral copulation with perverted men. The visual images I saw are forever embedded in my memory and disgust and repulse me. I am outraged by the vicious cycle and the loop holes in our legal system to catch the pimps and corrupt individuals involved.

Next, I researched and contacted agencies that were focused on compassion, which became the theme for an annual local event that I produce called Hallowed: an underground awakening. The purpose of Hallowed is to bring art, faith and justice together through a multi sensory journey through art, film and live music. IJM, along with other agencies, provided awareness for the event. After Hallowed, I was led to meet David Batstone, President & Co-founder of Not For Sale. Batstone leads Not For Sale to connect business leaders and celebrities to raise awareness on this issue. In January 2009, I produced the Not for Sale “Backyard Abolitionist Tour” in downtown San Jose at the Club Oasis. This event raised awareness and donations for the cause incorporating music and spoken word.

In March 2009, I was invited to be a participant for Wonderland and chose to create a human trafficking installation. I collaborated with a talented and socially conscious team of artists comprised of Monika Jones, Mark Lee, Erik Otto, and Brandon Robinson. We are very blessed and fortunate to have partnered with the following agencies whose life work is to provide hope by changing the lives of girls and boys who have been forced down the rabbit hole: Because Justice Matters, City Impact, Not for Sale, Sage, and Safe House. As guests exit our installation they are given black blindfolds with the websites of our partners as a call to action!

artists: brandon, erik, monika, jonathan


installation stills