Saturday, October 4, 2014

I don't want your manners, necessarily. I just want consent.

It's October and it is getting darker earlier.  Last night during the art walk in Portland, the darkened street was very pronounced.  The lights from the cars and buses passing added to the store and street lamps creating a surreal appeal.  I am sure many folks thought I was dressed for Halloween with my spiders, wig and make-up.  I wasn't though.  I was just hiding out for the art walk as a moving painting since I didn't have a gallery.  I was also playing with human interactions.

I am able to speak.  I have full use of my vocal cords and my voice.  I just don't choose to use my voice, to use verbal communication during this piece.  Our daily communication is largely one through non-verbal interactions. I think we often forget this and rely on the short and quick of verbals.  This hobbles our empathy.

When I am approached or glanced at by someone during the art walk, I nod or bow, depending on the gaze.  If that person approaches me and asks politely to see what is in my black box, then they have my permission (through a nod or positive gesture) to open the box.  People often think scary things will pop out of the box and that I am going to abuse them in some fashion.  I think this is because I look strange and am painted like a ghost or ghoul.  I am just for the moment something other- I will catch attention simply because I look different and strange.  How people approach that other- either through kind curiosity or through malice- is their choice.  I hope they choice the kindness.  If not the kindness, then I will leave.

Children are either terrified or transfixed.  Except for one child who had his sights set on a large cherry-picker crane that I was standing near: I was non-existent to this child.  His world was a cool machine.

The things in my black box are not mean.  When folks ask politely to take something from my box, then of course they may.  I don't want stories or ideas of how my emotions come into play.  I merely want to be able to give my consent for someone to take a gift from the box.  I merely want the person to ask please.  That's all.  I will ask you to say please using sign. 

And yes, I can speak.  Someone last evening said that I was unable to talk, unable to speak, unable to communicate.  And that person was so very wrong.  We talk the loudest when we quietly listen to each other and give space for consent.

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