Witnessing (2020) responds to the ongoing problem of police violence in our communities and, in particular, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, as well as the countless others impacted by police violence. This project reimagines a project from two decades ago, Witness: Perspectives on Police Violence created by Bradley McCallum in collaboration with Jacqueline Tarry. Witness addressed racism and injustice among New York City police by repurposing the Red Emergency call boxes that were found on many street corners at the time. Conjunction Arts’ reimagination of this project calls attention to the fact that despite the significant amount of time between the two projects, there has been no significant reduction in the death rates of people of color by the police. Artist Bradley McCallum will collaborate with many of the original project partners including the Center for Constitutional Rights to create new installations that contextualize the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement and offer a renewed platform to honor recent victims and survivors.
In the 1990s, most street corners in New York City had red emergency call boxes that were in place to alert police stations about crime and violence. Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry transformed these iconic structures, animating them with light and sound including video and audio documentation of testimonies from those who had experienced violence at the hands of the very authorities meant to protect them.
Witnessing is a public art project that memorializes the victims of police brutality and seeks to unite communities in the ongoing struggle to end racism, violence, and injustice in our criminal justice system. Witnessing will combine the original Call Boxes with new ones so the testimony recorded two decades ago will be in dialogue with contemporary voices. Conjunction Arts‘ mission is to support and produce socially progressive art in the public sphere. It is clearer now more than ever that systemic changes are needed. This reimagined project makes clear that no real progress has been made and what has been done so far, is insufficient.
“DTBK’s support of this project enables me to reimagine a historic work that I began when I was the artist-in-residence with the New York Civil Liberties Union to show how the issue of police violence, is generational and how the organizations that I partnered with in 1999-2001, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights are still fighting to change systemic racism and how their efforts are complemented the current Black Lives Matter Movement.”
-Bradley McCallum, Artist
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