Bear In Mind (The Bill of Rights)
EXCERPT from Bear in Mind (The Bill of Rights) (2 minutes, 54 seconds)
Duration of Full Video: Bear In Mind (The Bill of Rights) (6 ½ minutes)
An act of interpretation can be seen as a political action of resistance and freedom. These are but a few of the questions that were served as the catalyst for my making. How do people exercise political agency if they don’t understand the rights and freedoms available to them? How can a culture gauge its ability to maintain a just society if the language of its social documents, outlining cultural values and individual rights, are written in a manner that is either elevated or obscure? What is the impact of fear on freedom?
Completed during a residency in the Art and Technology program at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2006, this video examines how The Bill of Rights has been honored, challenged, and transgressed in contemporary or historic episodes while celebrating the inclusive nature and profundity of these ten amendments. A primary goal of this work is to take this social document that is often left to support itself as mere words on a page and give it a new physical presence. It is my observation that once the majority of political and socially aware art is made, it becomes inextricably tied to its historical context. Therefore, a vibrant response to a current political event or social issue may fail to connect with future audiences and parallel circumstances. I sought to challenge this tendency by laying out The Bill of Rights in its entirety and allowed its wholeness to act as a touchstone for cultural reflection. In this work The Bill of Rights becomes embodied, as a performed moving image, via American Sign Language and spoken word.
I collaborated with an American Sign Language Interpreter, Charlene McCarthy, as the primary performer in this video. American Sign Language (ASL) is regularly used to translate and interpret spoken language for hearing impaired persons. In this video ASL was utilized as a primary language of gestures that are interpreted for hearing persons by the spoken word. The soundtrack of the video is a spoken sign language “gloss” of The Bill of Rights. An ASL gloss is a document that is written by a sign language interpreter who is attempting to translate a complex legal or technical text. The ASL gloss for The Bill of Rights serves as this video’s soundtrack because it is incredibly poetic and accessible in its syntax.