On an evening when it is reported that the man who is accused of murdering Jo Cox MP researched the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organisations…
In a week when a multi millionaire businessman with reported possible links to the Ku Klux Klan is elected president of the United States…
In a month when the election of a president who has stated he would like to build a wall on America’s southern border to keep out immigrants, and wishes to ban Muslims entering the country, is celebrated by Klan members…
I want to share with you the nesting doll I made as part of my last exhibition; it is deliberately one of the smaller dolls, with a symmetrical pattern on the outside and a red finger puppet inside. It seems innocuous and that is the point. Intolerance is often insidious, implicit and hidden. We can only see it if we choose to.
In answer to the question, ‘what would you most like to mend?’, my mother and I both said that we would like to repair cruelty, prejudice and racism in the world. This doll is about that – an attempt to mend.
I titled the doll, Mend – ‘kleagle‘; her external pattern is a partial representation of the Ku Klux Klan’s symbol. Hidden inside her, the ‘finger puppet’ represents the red hoods of the ‘kleagles’ – the recruiters for the Klan.
Intolerance is no longer hidden in the so called ‘free world’. It is blatant. But, we shouldn’t be surprised, it has been there a long time. Intolerance and prejudice have run a steady campaign over the last fifteen years to arrive at the US election result on Wednesday. In that sense, we can not blame the American president elect – he is continuing a line of increasingly harsh rhetoric and intolerant attitudes to ‘the other’ in the western world over the last few decades.
Several years ago, in the role of ‘appropriate adult’, I witnessed a 13 year old being fingerprinted in a police station. Visually, I find the labyrinthine patterns of fingerprints intriguing – contours on a map, furrows in a field, labyrinths to be explored.
But, that day in the police station, for me, revealed a darker side to them. Fingerprints are a unique physical representation of who we are, but they don’t tell the full story. Since then, I have followed the increased use of fingerprinting to target immigrants and asylum seekers in the United States and in Europe. Fingerprints are an intrinsic part of the Brexit and the US election story. These are just three examples.
United States of America, 2002 | All visitors from Arab and Muslim countries arriving at airports and borders are compulsorily photographed and fingerprinted. (This scheme was expanded in 2003 to include all visitors to the US travelling on visas.)
European Union, 2003 | Eurodac, the EU fingerprint database is launched for use by immigration control; a shared central database of asylum seekers’ and irregular border crossers’ fingerprints.
European Union, 2012 | An amendment to the Eurodac Regulation is adopted that allows access to Eurodac data by member states’ law enforcement authorities and Europol. This became operational in member states in 2015.
In 1906, fingerprints were also the motivation for Gandhi’s first major campaign of non-cooperation. It was in protest at the compulsory registration and fingerprinting of all Indians living in the Transvaal, South Africa.
With the increase in hate crimes, the continued war in Syria, the post Brexit, and post US election world that we inhabit, perhaps more than ever we need to hold onto concepts of peace, non-cooperation and non-violence.
I still have a dream of planting ‘Peace’ roses in all the conflict zones of the world…
‘Planting peace’ labyrinth
…in a symbolic attempt to mend prejudice, cruelty and racism.
‘Mending prejudice’ labyrinth lunch plate