for Sculpture Quadrennial Riga 2008
of the Majority"
Inspired by the seventh key and 28th path of the Qabalah, Tzaddi
- the Star. I borrowed from the Medieval Labyrinth design to create
the footpaths in this piece. This installation embodies a multitude
of elements, not only does it speak to us of ancient times, of the
great Greek myths, it also tells a tale of a more poignant present
existence of humanity, one where racism and discrimination play
out their nasty charade.
At first glance, the characters dominating the southern portion
of the Maze appear to display only the uglier side of mankind's
passions, specifically passions for power and the need to dominate
and suppress other peoples. The Maze itself represents mankind's
journey here on earth, and it is through experiencing the game of
the Maze that the viewer is able to see beyond the evil doings of
men and appreciate passions which are pursued for constructive ends.
This is revealed symbolically by the Tree of Life in the center
I've chosen the Deep South of America specifically for its historical
relationship with the "Black Man." But also because, being
a "Yankee" girl, brought up in the state of Connecticut,
one of the first colonized states in the Union of "New England,"
and also attending college and spending my more formative adult
years in the land of the “Bleeding Heart Liberals,”
in the state of Massachusetts, this notion of “I am greater
or lesser than you because of the color of my skin” is most
foreign to me. Yet, the labyrinth holds meanings for me which go
beyond "skin deep" and address the plight of all "people
of color." The viewer is invited to walk the path of the oppressed
and look not only at the history of slavery in America, but also
at the injustices and horrific acts that occur every day based on
The Katrina disaster in New Orleans was a pivotal event in American
history, and greatly influenced my desire to create this piece.
No longer flaunting the robes of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)*, and seeking
out and torturing the black in the night, this new breed of supremacists
have infiltrated the very bowels of the American structure that
supposedly upholds the ideal of FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR ALL. From
our living rooms, we Americans watched the ineptness of our government
in coming to the aid of its people, and we had to ask the question
- Why? WHY???! and... How? How could these so-called reputable members
of "homeland security" botch such a simple task? If they
can't assist us in a time of dire need, then why has this security
system been put into place? What is it protecting us from? Then
we were forced to answer in whispers the obvious and ugly truth
about America — The ones who remained were not only poor,
with no option for escaping this predicted natural disaster, but
they were BLACK...
Never in my lifetime had I seen an act of racism so blatantly carried
out on national television, and not by some "po-dunk,"
redneck country boy from Arkansas or Alabama, but by the members
of the American government, the new KKK'smen without the hoods and
masks parading in Washington, DC! It's the same white face who enslaved
the blacks, then once freed segregated them; the same white face
that pits black against black in cities like Los Angeles; the same
white face who ran the Indians off their land and slaughtered them;
and the same white face who now wants to build a wall the likes
of Berlin between U.S. and Mexican soil. That face which is fiercely
linked to a human condition of want for power. A passion it is,
but one that aspires to create hate and violence all around us.
With the realization that racism runs in many directions, and that
we all are played against each other in one form or another, I often
feel trapped by the American system. Over the past two years I've
experienced what some have termed "reversed discrimination"
living with my very blonde, very white, five year old daughter on
the west side, a predominantly Latino neighborhood, in the city
of San Antonio, Texas. I am of European descent (not exactly white),
second generation to be born in America. Both my grandfathers were
immigrants from Poland and Sicily and met and married their wives
in Connecticut and Brooklyn respectively. I remember as a child
hearing the racist jokes about the "stupid Pollock" and
the "Wop" or "Greasy Guinea." Forty years later,
the Poles, Wops, the Irish, and the Kikes are no longer at the brunt
of racist slurs in America, the negative slurs of today now focus
on the illegal "Aliens" or "Wetbacks" of Mexico.
In this hodge-podge melting pot we call America, I can no longer
find a place to look for the "American Dream." I have
begun to surmise that it never existed. It was a trick, an illusion
my grandfathers most likely searched for since the day they stepped
off that boat and onto Ellis Island. Whether they ever felt they
had won or found that dream, I will never know. From the beginning
it appears America has had its roots set in deception and bloodshed.
We blindly give thanks every November for this United States and
all its wonders on Thanksgiving Day, and in July again we pretend
to celebrate our freedoms of speech and religion. I laugh at the
irony, the great dinner party between Pilgrim and Indian, which
clearly marked the beginning of the end for Native Americans. I
cringe at the thought that we really don't possess those freedoms
our "forefathers" fought and signed for on the Constitution.
On these days, I am not thankful, nor proud, but ashamed to be an
American. For, all around me I still see the White Man dominating
and oppressing, though he no longer wears the literal clothing of
the devil incarnate, nor the robes of the KKK.
With the creation of the Maze / Path to the Star(s), I am resurrecting
the mythos of the labyrinth, and also attempting to bury the tears
of the American Indian, for, coincidentally, at about the same time
as the appearance of the Greek labyrinth, a topologically identical
pattern appeared in Native American culture - the Tohono O'odham
labyrinth which features I'itoi, the "Man in the Maze".
Prehistoric labyrinths are believed to have served either as traps
for malevolent spirits or as defined paths for ritual dances. During
Medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to the God
with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth). Labyrinths
can be thought of as symbolic forms of pilgrimage; people can walk
the path, ascending towards salvation or enlightenment. It is these
ideals I’m attempting to renew. Through the use of this ancient
icon I wish to unravel the betrayals and unfairness we find buried
in racism and prejudice, past and present, to reveal the secret
of The Path of Tzaddi found in the System of the Qabalah. The path
of Natural Intelligence, and is so-called because through it is
consummated and perfected the Nature of every existing thing beneath
the Sun. The Path of Tzaddi connects Victory (Netzach) with The
Foundation (Yesod). It is said to be a very powerful Path that points
out the way in which the Divine Energy inherent in each individual
is properly approached. Tzaddi means FISH HOOK, translated it is
the Tree of Life. The HOOK is set in place in the waters of MEM
(the Hanged Man) in order to catch the FISH (nun, death). So, as
one experiments with any meditation or imaginative visualization,
casting oneself into the Universal Sea (the Maze), we perhaps seek
and find an understanding of the very processes of life and death.