“Stitching Dreams of Leaving, Dreams of Roots” . 2019-2023 . A durational performance at sites of arrivals, sites of departures, sites of longing, sites of isolation, sites of public gatherings, sites of becoming, sites of healing . A series of participatory workshops that re-imagines what a reconsidered pledge of allegiance may sound like to create a sense of home for all.
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 marks. In place of the stars, I made markings of the Chinese character 正 (zheng). 正 references tally marks as well and translates to being upright, just, and firm. Accompanying the altered flag, I’ve reconsidered and rewrote the pledge to the flag with a vision of 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 years, I will move forward with these stitchings at sites of gatherings, sites of arrivals, sites of departures, sites of longing; and in the midst of the covid pandemic, these stitchings take residence at sites of isolation.
Concurrently, I’ve created a participatory workshop aimed to reflect on how the pledge came to be, to consider the words in detail. The collective performance aspires to unpack these points through a series of facilitated writing and reflection exercises sequenced to guide participants to imagine what their pledge will be to achieve a sense of home for all. I will collect these reconsidered pledges, care for them. With time, I shall carry these words and recite them all at the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial, the base of the Statue of Liberty, and along the shores of Angel Island.
Ephemera from these actions will be housed in a downloadable book to be gifted back to all participants. Copies will be gifted to the four congresswomen color for giving me the strength to undertake this project. Furthermore, copies will be sent to members of the house of representatives and the senate with the hope for a culture shift.
Oct 2019 + Fri 18Oct2019: 1p-3p . University of New Mexico Campus – Imagining America Conference . Student Union Building 3/F > Albuquerque, New Mexico + Sat 19Oct2019: 430p-6p . University of New Mexico – Imagining America Conference . Participatory Workshop 001 > Albuquerque, New Mexico + Sat 12Oct2019: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico + Sat 26Oct2019: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jan 2020 + Fri 17Jan2020: noon-2p . Badwater Basin > Death Valley, California + Sat 18Jan2020: noon-2p . Harmony Borax Works > Furnace Creek . Death Valley, California + Sun 26Jan2020: 1–3p . Union Station > Los Angeles, California
Feb 2020 + Sat 01Feb2020: 1p-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico + Sat 08Feb2020: 1p-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico + Sat 22Feb2020: 1p-3p . Greyhound + Amtrak Station > Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mar 2020 + Sat 14Mar2020: 1p-3p . Old Town Plaza > Albuquerque, New Mexico cxld due to COVID19
Apr 2020 + Sun 05Apr2020: noon-2p . Santa Fe Railyard site of isolation (a ditch below railroad tracks) Santa Fe, NM – due to COVID19 + Sun 12Apr2020: noon-2p . Santa Fe Railyard >Santa Fe, New Mexico – due to COVID19 + Sun 26Apr2020: noon-2p . Santa Fe Railyard site of isolation (vacant parking lot of home good store) Santa Fe, NM – due to COVID19
May 2020 + Sat 09May2020: noon-2p . Taos Plaza . Taos, New Mexico cxld due to COVID19 + Sun 17May2020: 1-3p . Taos Plaza site of isolation (a place between an overgrown track and one under the sun) Santa Fe, NM – due to COVID19 + Sat 23May2020: noon-3p . Angel Island Immigration Station > San Francisco, California cxld due to COVID19 + Sat 30May2020: Noon-2p . Taos Plaza . Taos, New Mexico cxld due to COVID19
Jun 2020 + Sat 13Jun2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico cxld due to COVID19 + Sat 20Jun2020: 10a-1p . Santa Fe Railyard > Santa Fe, New Mexico cxld due to COVID19 + Mon 29Jun2020: 10a-noon . site of isolation (under a derelict rail bridge) > Santa Fe, NM
Jul 2020 + Sat 04Jul2020: noon-3p . Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool > Washington DC cxld due to COVID19
Aug 2020 + Sat 29Aug2020: 10a-1230p . site of isolation (along decommissioned rail tracks) > Santa Fe, NM
Sep 2020 + Sat 26Sep2020: 10a-1230p . site of isolation (along decommissioned rail tracks) > Santa Fe, NM
A publication will chronicle my forthcoming public stitchings from Oct 2019 through Sep 2020. 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.
The workshop contains the following core sections:
01/ Storytelling >>> I set out to contextualize the workshop with a personal story that has led to the creation of this workshop – shedding layers on the formation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
02/ Walk With Me >>> This session starts off with a guided breathing exercise to center one’s mind followed by a series of facilitated writing and sharing moments. They are sequenced to direct participants to arrived a re-imagined working pledge based on one’s personal experiences and one’s vision for a sense of home for all.
03/ Mapping our Collective Voices >>> Participants to virtually post their working pledges. Time will be given to reflect in silence. A debrief session will address thematic patterns that resonated with participants. Documentation of session’s common threads, the overall tone, and a transcription of all reconsidered pledges will be emailed to participants.
The following details the schedule for the forthcoming virtual participatory workshops (max per session: 5)
Workshop 002: Wed 13Jan2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 003: Wed 17Feb2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 004: Wed 17Mar2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 005: Wed 14Apr2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 006: Wed 12May2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 007: Wed 16Jun2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 008: Wed 14Jul2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 009: Wed 11Aug2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 010: Wed 08Sep2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 011: Wed 06Oct2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom. Workshop 012: Wed 10Nov2021 . 6p Mountain Time . Register via Zoom.
Groups (eg: universities, community centers, classes) interested in workshops or in-person participatory workshops, please send request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that in-person workshops will adhere to current covid restrictions of the physical site.