RIOT! is Connection Arts Space’s current digital group exhibition being delivered daily via Instagram. The exhibition carves out a space for our artists and the audience to explore various themes such as philosophy, social issues, politics, spirituality and religion, while seeking to elevate voices that are typically pushed to the margins. We asked participating artists one simple but complex question:
WHY DO YOU RIOT?
I am a visual artist who is very fond of colour, self-expression and provoking audiences through their works. In many of my works, I endeavour to communicate various social issues which I am a passionate advocate for. In the past these have included LGBQTIA+ (i.e. human) rights, mental health, sustainability and climate change. One of my recent artworks, titled ‘Pride’ which was apart of my ‘Eyes’ collection, demonstrates the overwhelming emotions we can all experience and aims to encourage the audience to seek out these emotions in themselves. This piece is also in celebration of pride in the LGBQTIA+ community which is something very close to my heart. By creating art and sharing it online, I am able to express these views to a wide audience. I want this audience to view my artwork and think deeply about the social issues which I am wanting to convey. I also want them to leave thinking about what they’re going to make change in their everyday lives, whether that be more aware of mental health issues in our communities or the grave concerns of the fast fashion industry. While I’m very motivated to create art because I enjoy exploring making comments about current social issues, I also find it extremely enjoyable and therapeutic and am continuously encouraging people to take it up.
“Repeat, repeat. Again and again and again”
I’m going to start writing and not stop writing till I manage to come up with an answer to ‘WHY DO I RIOT?’ So, apologies if my following thoughts are not quite coherent.
I am struggling to come up with an answer because I’m paralysed to even begin, and I think this paralysis is the answer itself to why I choose to RIOT through my art.
I always struggle to write and speak about issues that impact me personally, preferring visual mediums like art, photography, and video to transmit my thoughts instead. Especially when it comes to people of colour – the silence that renders us invisible – I find myself fuming and frustrated and wanting to say something, wanting to RIOT, but struggling to find the words and struggling to figure out when and where to even begin.
Visual art itself comes with its own difficulties of translating thoughts to art, but it’s so freeing at times to show rather than tell. When I try to write or voice my concerns, too often I am met with disapproval and then a silencing. Art has been forgiving and understanding, inviting me to speak more and RIOT more. Art has given me such fascinating conversations. I love to hear what transpires from my work in other people’s minds, to then hear about their lived experiences that shape the art into something more than its original state.
The word RIOT itself resonates within me, resonates with particular anger that I’ve been told to extinguish. And I am sick and tired of keeping quiet, sick and tired of feeling paralysed.
I want to show people my pain and my body and my thoughts and my people and my struggles and my loves and my wishes.
The word RIOT speaks of people coming together as one voice. It’s such a powerful image to think about communities coming together to support and converse and fight for what’s meaningful to us. Through my art practice, I truly hope to foster and nature this.
Each time I RIOT through my art, whether people hate it or love it, my biggest wish is that it stirs people’s thoughts and encourages people to start talking. Especially if they too struggle with the paralysis of speaking and writing, I hope my art entices them to RIOT with me too.
“Tip of the Iceberg #1”
Art is about creating and building your own creative narratives of self-reflections, observations or experiences. I make art as an active way of finding meanings in life and translating them into my own narratives, in hopes that they will reach and enable someone else to do the same.