We were invited to Flöha, Saxony, Germany along with a bunch of other incredible artists to transform this closed paper factory into a playground of creativity for this year’s @ibug.art festival

The process:
When we asked about assigned spaces we were told by the organizers to let the wall speak to us. I’m not going to lie. It’s really stressful to create work on the spot. It’s a great exercise but it’s rough. Our installation piece ‘PRODUCTIVE HUMAN BEING’ was created on the spot and in response to what we learned about the paper, factory and materials that were found in the building.

The context:
There is a lot of intersectionality btwn the fall of industrialism in US cities and the story of this paper factory. Folks put a lot of value and identity in occupation and seem to start blaming anyone they think they can when stuff falls apart.

This area is seeing a rise in right wing support because just like a lot of the center states folks feel forgotten, work isn’t what it use to be and pivoting is harder than blaming marginalized people and honestly it’s hard to find grounding when bellies are grumbling.

The work:
So it got us thinking… If value is subtracted from productivity, perhaps most of this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. This installation piece tackles the concept of unhinging the correlation between what we make, who we are and where we sit in society. We painted a mantra of ‘value does not equal productivity’ and ‘productivity does not equal value’ on rolls of paper that we found in the factory. We then assembled these pieces on the wall to create a sculpture falling out of a hand coming out of the building. This was done as a reminder that there is more to life than work and what we make though it is important to make. It’s important to also understand what and who we’re making for.

The Protectors.
Of course we had to bring our people with us. This is an iteration of our piece called the ‘Protectors’. There are a couple figures in the collage that are images from the US archives of people who were sharecroppers and/or former enslaved people. We incorporate these figures into this collage because it’s important for them to be dignified and there’s something incredibly satisfying about bringing them all over the world to see what we see. I’m glad we brought them. As much as we enjoyed ourselves, being ‘othered’ is exhausting.

Speaking of dignity, taking responsibility…and all things that come with making amends, here is an observation. It’s seems way easier to be apologetic when you don’t have to live/deal with/see the folks you are apologizing too. It’s like apologizing to relics.

This is all intersectional.

The lesson: the people who have been the victims of the atrocities are the ones who determine if amends have been made/proper reconsolidation have been put into place. It is never determined by those that have inflicted the atrocities. They were never qualified to do that, thus the atrocious acts.