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Nuttaphol Ma
presents
Stitching Dreams of Leaving, Dreams of Roots
Words contain power. Some choose words to hurt, to demean, to bully, to disrupt, to scare. Some thread them together to create, to hope, to unify, to build, to fight! These two intents came to a clash on 14 Jul 2019 when the president divided the nation with hurtful words targeted towards four congresswomen of color. They were told to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Such xenophobic rhetoric has not only sparked a public outcry in support of the congresswomen but has ruptured past wounds of those who were also told to “go back” at some point in their lives.
I was one of them.
In an age of digital immediacy, when soundbites come and go in a split second, this one lingered, piercing deep inside. How to respond to such bullshit? Some choose to suppress their emotions, some choose humor as an outlet, some speak up. I speak through my artistic voice.
I turned inwards to question the relationship between our flag and the pledge to our flag. What will the social imagination of this relationship look like to create an equal footing for all? What will the flag look like? How will the pledge be worded? I began altering the solid red stripes with red tally markings and stitching red threads over them whilst at the Wurlitzer Residency in Taos this past summer. In place of the stars, I made markings of the Chinese character (zheng) which will be stitched over with blue threads. (zheng) loosely translates to being upright, just, firm and also functions as tally marks as well. Accompanying the altered flag, I’ve reconsidered and rewrote the pledge to the flag in order to make room for a place with heart, a place with a welcoming sense of belonging. It reads: “I pledge allegiance to our Flag, one open Nation, in compassionate unity, with liberty and justice for all.”
For the coming nine months, I will move forward with these stitchings at sites of public gatherings, sites of arrivals, sites of departures and sites of longing. I’ll share my rewritten pledge and my reasons for undertaking such actions to those who are willing to listen. My sociopolitical interventions hope to invite curious passerby to meaningful conversations on how we can re-imagine the pledge of allegiance to create a sense of home for all. Perhaps some will contribute their reconsidered pledges. I will collect them as I continue my journey with the intent of reciting all of them on July 4th 2020 at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington DC.
The following details of my forthcoming public interventions from Oct 2019 to Jul 2020. The dates are subject to change. Check for latest updates via Instagram @thechinaoutpost and Twitter @thechinaoutpost.
Oct 2019
+ 18-20 Oct 2019: Time (TBD) . University of New Mexico Campus – Imagining America Conference > Albuquerque, New Mexico
+ Sat 26Oct2019: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jan 2020
+ Fri 17Jan2020: noon-3p . Badwater Basin > Death Valley, California
+ Sat 18Jan2020: noon-3p . Harmony Borax Works > Furnace Creek . Death Valley, California
+ Sat 25Jan2020: noon-3p . Union Station > Los Angeles, California
Feb 2020
+ Sat 01Feb2020: noon-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico
+ Sat 08Feb2020: noon-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico
+ Sat 22Feb2020: noon-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mar 2020
+ Sat 07Mar2020: noon-3p . Old Town Plaza > Albuquerque, New Mexico
+ Sat 14Mar2020: noon-3p . Old Town Plaza > Albuquerque, New Mexico
+ Sat 28Mar2020: noon-3p . Old Town Plaza > Albuquerque, New Mexico
Apr 2020
+ Sat 04Apr2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
+ Sat 18Apr2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
+ Sat 25Apr2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
May 2020
+ Sat 09May2020: 11a-1p . Taos Plaza > Taos, New Mexico
+ Sat 16May2020: 11a-1p . Taos Plaza > Taos, New Mexico
+ Sat 23May2020: noon-3p . Angel Island Immigration Station > San Francisco, California
+ Sat 30May2020: 11a-1p . Taos Plaza > Taos, New Mexico
Jun 2020
+ Sat 13Jun2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
+ Sat 13Jun2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jul 2020
+ Sat 04Jul2020: noon-3p . Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool > Washington DC
A publication will chronicle my forthcoming public stitchings. I’m thrilled and honored to announce that this publication is funded in part by the Fulcrum Fund, a grant program of 516 ARTS made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts. Special thanks to jurors Evan Garza, Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, and Imin Yeh for nominating my project for funding. More details to follow as at the time of writing, contributing essayists and 2020 publication launch schedules are yet to be confirmed.
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