Lamentation, 2019

performance, 6 minutes

Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY

video still: Irina Akulenko

Text from the wall label:

This is a 6-minute performance art piece. Please do not interrupt but feel free to join.

 

One year ago on February 14, 2018 at 2:21 p.m. a gunman set off first round of shots at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the following six minutes he took away the lives of fourteen students and three staff members. The surviving students, who consequently spoke out publicly against gun violence, became victims of conspiracy theories, deep fake videos, misinformation, and insults by the conservative media and alt-right groups.   

 

Today I am pressing my head against the wall of my former high school in Brooklyn, NY. This six-minute performance mimics the behavior exhibited by some animals who become critically ill. Experiencing neurological damage or build up of toxins in a body, an animal walks up to a wall and puts their forehead against it. Called head pressing, this simple physical act is a sign of life-threatening internal damage.

My action today is a reaction to the collective sickness and dysfunction that permeates our current political and social systems. The Parkland shooting did not unite a polarized nation. It revealed how deep the divide runs by prioritizing political gains over empathy, humility, and basic human dignity.