Breaking Down to Build Up?

Over the last year I have been breaking, burning and crushing stuff to make new structures from the remnants. After a while, I called it art. Necessary in what I was doing was the act of aggressively destroying the original form so I could change it into something else. It got me thinking if this approach to change could be applied elsewhere. I got interested in whether violence and destruction is necessary for social change. There have certainly been people in the past that thought so. Groups like the Black Panthers come to mind. Even James Baldwin, who was against violence, thought that ‘all things are settled with sweat, with pain’. But after going to protests, demonstrations and events in the last year, it seems people are ‘fighting’ for social change through joy, subtlety and a sense of togetherness. Instead of trying to forcefully break or dismantle what they are against, people are building on and celebrating what they are in favor of. Here here are some photos from moments that made me think about what it means to facilitate change today.

 Oakland Women’s March 1/20/2018 You can’t see it, but this man was wearing a pink diaper and he couldn't have been happier.

Oakland Women’s March 1/20/2018
You can’t see it, but this man was wearing a pink diaper and he couldn't have been happier.

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  Some photos from an art installation I did called ‘breaking down to build up.’ What I was breaking and how I was breaking it provided purpose of what I was doing. I created clay casts of objects that symbolized events or things that I wanted to change, so I could take control, throw them against or wall or trod on them and build them back up into an alternative image.

Some photos from an art installation I did called ‘breaking down to build up.’ What I was breaking and how I was breaking it provided purpose of what I was doing. I created clay casts of objects that symbolized events or things that I wanted to change, so I could take control, throw them against or wall or trod on them and build them back up into an alternative image.

  Oakland Women’s March 1/20/2018 A Woman wears a vest promoting the non profit organization ‘Water is LIfe’ which aims to give 1 billion people from around the world access to safe drinking water. Protests today often seem to be a platform for people to fight for anything they believe in.

Oakland Women’s March 1/20/2018
A Woman wears a vest promoting the non profit organization ‘Water is LIfe’ which aims to give 1 billion people from around the world access to safe drinking water. Protests today often seem to be a platform for people to fight for anything they believe in.

  Sunday Streets Mission District 3/11/2018 . A man breakdancing in part of a non profit hip hop group that teaches children to dance. In retrospect, I noticed how his clenched fist at the center; a historical symbol of solidarity, support and defiance, he stands in support of California Proposition 32.

Sunday Streets Mission District 3/11/2018 .
A man breakdancing in part of a non profit hip hop group that teaches children to dance. In retrospect, I noticed how his clenched fist at the center; a historical symbol of solidarity, support and defiance, he stands in support of California Proposition 32.

bald guy protest.jpg
  A Rally against offshore oil drilling after Trump renewed the prospect of offshore drilling along the pacific coast, Sacramento 2/8/2018 I am always more interested in the people at the demonstration rather than the signs they are holding. As we stood there, half heartedly chanting, I couldn't help feeling like we were not making a difference. Then I realized our presence alone at these demonstrations will lead to change. Once there is enough people backing a cause, politicians will pay attention.

A Rally against offshore oil drilling after Trump renewed the prospect of offshore drilling along the pacific coast, Sacramento 2/8/2018
I am always more interested in the people at the demonstration rather than the signs they are holding. As we stood there, half heartedly chanting, I couldn't help feeling like we were not making a difference. Then I realized our presence alone at these demonstrations will lead to change. Once there is enough people backing a cause, politicians will pay attention.

  El Born, Barcelona July 2017.   In the El Born neighborhood of Barcelona, I came across this street art labelled #quisom (‘who are we’), featuring portraits of local residents alongside quotes of what the neighborhood means to them. In these portraits I saw more celebration of who they are rather than fear and resentment towards those who are not like them.Their approach couldn't be more different to the stereotype of aggressive catalan localism.

El Born, Barcelona July 2017.  
In the El Born neighborhood of Barcelona, I came across this street art labelled #quisom (‘who are we’), featuring portraits of local residents alongside quotes of what the neighborhood means to them. In these portraits I saw more celebration of who they are rather than fear and resentment towards those who are not like them.Their approach couldn't be more different to the stereotype of aggressive catalan localism.

  Oakland Women’s 1/20/2018 I was happy to see someone associating the joy and optimism of the march with the American flag at a time where ideas of progress and change seem to be at odds with the way the country is governed.

Oakland Women’s 1/20/2018
I was happy to see someone associating the joy and optimism of the march with the American flag at a time where ideas of progress and change seem to be at odds with the way the country is governed.

Erik Nuding