In Fall 2009, I became interested in a deeper investigation of two conceptual frameworks: complicating the art-site relationship and the effects of narrative iteration. Specifically the “1700% Project” shifts notions of “site specific” work from location, setting, and environment to that of audience, context, and access as sites of engagement. My project also relocates sites for public engagement of art to include spaces within and beyond museums, galleries, and art institutions. Additionally, in exploring iterations originating from the same narrative material, I wanted to understand how resonance functions in relation to an artwork’s medium or mode of representation. The project acknowledges that politically driven works are complex and layered thus often requiring a multitude of ways for expression and encounter.
The 1700% Project is conceived as a collaborative project utilizing art not just as a means to address critical issues but also as strategic intervention. The project implements a transdisciplinary approach to the development of audience-specific and process-specific works based on the iteration of an original written poem entitled, “1700%.” The prose poem is a cento I composed of 100 lines of found writings from actual reported hate crimes. The text is an unapologetic response to injustices against Muslims while simultaneously acknowledging the resonance of historical persecution. The number 1700% refers to the exponential percentage increase of hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim since the events of September 11, 2001. Currently my project includes a poem, video, dance, audio recording and performance-installation. Each facet implements a medium specific to the ways in which access operates within various communities. Each iteration of the text becomes its own unique work of art with a unique site of engagement.
My work continues to investigate the residual stain of performance and how the live body completes the experience for both audience and performer. Performing narratives is an act of social storytelling that contributes to collective healing. For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions.
Anida Yoeu Ali