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.

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