The Singing Bowl: voices of the enemy
A Traveling Exhibition
This exhibition is about listening.
There is value in putting yourself in the shoes of "the other," of the person who has been defined for you as your enemy. Life does not usually allow us this exercise. But we can do this through listening.
What is So
Even as technology has evolved beyond our dreams, our method of sharing life on this planet - in addition to all the good things we have learned and built - consists of the same fighting and killing, of defeating and eliminating one's "others" as existed when there was one lone buffalo for miles and too many tribes to feed. What is so is that this is accepted as the norm. There were wars. There are wars now. There will be new wars coming. This is what we can expect in our future.
In her project the artist offers an alternative. She presents the idea that along with educating ourselves further about what we already know, we can use those same educational tools available to us to do something we are unpracticed at. When we are asked to go to war we can step back before we follow. We can get to know those defined as "the enemy." We can listen to their stories. We can learn more about our common humanity. We can stop keeping score and declaring winners. We can communicate in such a way that we understand. Instead of eliminating "the other" we can redefine "otherness." We can eliminate war. We can. We are people. We are talented. It begins with listening.
25 Artworks 25 Stories
Madeleine Segall-Marx has created 25 unique and diverse artworks, both two- and three-dimensional, each representing a voice of a person who has been defined as the enemy of someone. To present the concept of listening to the enemy she uses the voices of people who live, or have lived, in situations of armed conflict.
Over a 10-year period Segall-Marx collected 25 personal stories from people caught in war, from around the globe. With each new story she created one visual artwork, resulting in this collection. Her interest was not to illustrate each story, per se. Rather, the function of each work is to be a physical, or visual reminder to the viewer that there is a story to listen to.
In the process of moving from the original story to a visual work, the artist uses the device of food. A story comes in. The artist chooses a recipe from the culture of the story teller. Something from that recipe ends up in the visual work.
This is not a project about food. It is a project about listening. But food was chosen to link stories (voices) and artworks for two reasons. First, food is as universal a life element as anything. Everyone eats. Everyone gets hungry. Everyone relates to food in a commonly human manner. Second, when considering the spectrum of human behavior, the act of feeding or nourishing oneself along with one's loved ones is completely opposite the act of being on the front lines and killing a person one does not know. For these reasons the artist felt that food was a fine thread to tie the elements of artwork and story together.
Including a Book
Finally, while the project is designed as an art exhibition of 25 sizeable works, the stories also needed presentation. So along with the works is a book, which contains all 25 stories, along with photos of each corresponding artwork and recipes which serve as a link between each pairing.
The book and the project share the same title.
The artist calls her project The Singing Bowl because singing bowls of Tibet produce many tones - many voices - that build on one another in collective harmony. The twenty five individuals who shared their personal stories for this project could have been anyone. The stories were not vetted. They are quite random and varied, and an endless number of stories are out there.
Reading them exposes a common humanity. When we read them we are listening.
The peace activist Gene Knudsen Hoffman said:
"The enemy is one whose story we have not heard."
The Singing Bowl:voices of the enemy was supported by grants from the Puffin Foundation and by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Currently booking venues for the next several years. Interested parties please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.