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LOCATION:
Central Plaza

About the Artwork

The piece is a portal into the spaces of radical gathering, hospitality, celebration, and care that Black, brown, poor, trans, queer, and otherwise excluded communities have forged to take care of our own. The speakers form an X, or a positive-sign on its side, engaging our connections to the ongoing AIDS crisis, our connections to those no longer with us, and our connections to our communities of resilience.

The symbol of an X can carry so much weight and so much meaning without losing its center.

Being a symbol for love and a symbol for banishment and exclusion, a symbol for unknown, for explicit things we are not “supposed” to speak about in public, and again a symbol for love.

The artist felt an anchor for this meaning in the Dikenga, a Black indigenous spiritual mark made of two intersecting lines and used to map connections between the physical and spiritual realms, between life and life after life. This mark has been spread throughout the Western Hemisphere by enslaved Africans mapping connections to the spirit world.

This is the X that comes to mind when thinking about Harriet Tubman signing her name with an X, about how Malcolm X was a sex worker as a youth who traded sex with men, when Kimberly Crenshaw developed the legal concept of intersectionality, and Combahee River Collective’s position on separatism and when the lesbian women who – as Chad Goller Sojourner poignantly put, stood in the gap for gay men at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and we’re reminded how X is the chromosome connecting all genders. The X finds us within a lineage of movement, action, and care. The X also greets us at a crossroads, between interlocking crises of mass displacement and HIV criminalization calling for renewed and continued action.

This sculpture exists both to celebrate the lives of those no longer with us, and to galvanize ongoing action. These silent speakers come from spaces which have witnessed our gathering and connections across time. Today, in a country where 50% of Black gay men are projected to become HIV+ in their lifetime, the speakers call us into connection, hospitality, care, celebration, remembrance, activism and support. One of our goals is to accompany the sculpture with an interactive archive of sounds, poetry, stories, music to forge an embodied portal into communion with those we love. I imagine a sort of perpetual “silent” rave being broadcast as folks tune in and groove to the lineage of rhythms, voices, sounds, and stories that bring us to this moment, together entering the embodied celebration that connects us with our loved ones and to the resilience living on in us.

Christopher Paul Jordan portrait

Christopher Paul Jordan

(b. 1990) Christopher Paul Jordan integrates virtual and physical public space to form infrastructures for dialogue and self-determination among dislocated people. Jordan’s paintings and sculptures are time-capsules from his work in community. His 7,000 sq ft panoramic mural from #COLORED2017 is now buried into the walls of the Carpenter’s Union Building in Tacoma where it can only be rediscovered through demolition.

 

Jordan’s installations and public projects have been implemented internationally including Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, and Mexico. His work has been recognized by the Neddy Artist Award in painting, the James W Ray Venture Project Award, the Jon Imber Fellowship, the GTCF Foundation of Art Award, and the Artist Trust Fellowship.

Artist’s website