One of the difficulties in this process of confrontation is that I forget I’m wearing a camera and that I have to consciously, assertively, pivot towards the folks who get up the nerve to approach me. I have to build up my nerve to face them as I miss the visual interaction as well as most of the audio, since, the mic is one-directional. Notwithstanding, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art today. There, I walked through my favorite galleries and discovered that there had been a rotation, of which, this piece, which I hadn’t seen for some time, had been returned to display. Here I am smudgingly standing in front of one of my favorite pieces by Joseph Beuys, a chalkboard replete with his annotations; he is one of the artists who influenced me. While there I was approached by a few guards, all of them black, most of them young. The young ones asked questions. But it was an older guard who was most curious and, at the same time, the most exacting. The interaction went like this:
“That is a protest.”
“Oh yes!” I exclaimed, thinking, the old heads know what’s up.
“Let me give you my card.”
Poring over the card, she countered, “ I think it’s clever.”
“Well,” I responded, “ I can’t wear the noose everyday.”
“We do,” she admonished.
“That’s right.” I made like she jogged my memory, because I didn’t expect so blunt a realistic assessment which was the reaction I was aiming for, but, it still shocked me when I heard it voiced.