Kirk Washington & Jakari Perry
Title: The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
Residence: North Minneapolis / Harrison Neighborhood
Location: 730 Hennepin Avenue
On display until: October 7, 2014
Our piece is based on several perceptions of the social landscape in the city. There is a poem which is written as a counter-narrative to the epistemic and ontological violence experienced by people of color. It is told from many voices. It is inspired by the viewpoint of my apartment window overlooking the skyline from here on the north side. It is an attempt at an honest ‘first voice’ assessment of the contemporary social climate surrounding stratification.
A series of photos were done also to accompany the text. They are to suggest regular citizens holding signs reminiscent of many of the city's transient population as they solicit commuters for money in public spaces. Collectively both approaches serve to evoke questions, such as how many of our citizens are often regarded as invisible? What do we actually see when we see these citizens?
Our intent was to look deeply at poverty and how it relates to historical trauma experienced over time. We wanted to know how that coincides with the families affected by the 2011 tornado, the looming gentrification being ushered in on the north side and who's story gets told. We were interested in how narrative is formed in times like this and how that effect becomes normative. What we discovered is a "single story" about the north side. One which suggests crime, poverty and low expectations. We also were interested in how this correlates to the ever-present “equity” gaps plaguing our city’s people of color (housing, incarceration, education, health and employment).
We observed that image is everything. Especially in stories about the underclass. We are interested in transforming this rhetoric. We wanted to have our installation act as a conversation piece. Our overall intent is to begin the cumbersome process of healing.