Friday, January 23, 2009

foi response from Amanda Hamp (IO)

Hello again everyone.

At this moment one week ago I was a few minutes away from completing the action of freedom of information 2008. The project intends specifically to be an act of recognition of and solidarity with those displaced by war, but it extends to all who are suffering. For the 24 hours I was blindfolded and ear-plugged, not eating, moving continuously, and, aside from whether it was day or night, I did not know the time. My personal intention for the 24-hour action was to stay conscious. While this encompassed such synonyms as mindful and contemplative, frequently throughout the 24 hours it was hard to simply stay awake. My experiences during the 24 hours ranged from quite difficult to so blissful.

I entered the 24-hour action questioning my connection to those affected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So persistent were my thoughts that my experience in this action could not even get a glimpse of the experiences of those who suffer the violence of war. The distinction between my choice and their subjugation was so strong. Questions about how I and this action could possibly reach people in Afghanistan and Iraq, so remote geographically and experientially, continued for much of the event.

What I was sure was nearly the end of the 24-hours lasted for a very long time, and it became very difficult to stay conscious. It was simply hard, and to some extent, I was suffering. Though I had a choice, and the freedom to stop at any time, I had submitted myself to the commitment, so I had a feeling of being subjected to something. This is when I started to have, rather than only a cognitive understanding, a more experiential comprehension of people who suffer subjection to displacement, violence, torture and confinement. Because of this action, I feel empathy differently for those affected on both sides of war.

A very significant and powerful aspect of this piece was other people: the other foi2008 participants, family and friends who were present and supportive in their thoughts and attention, and people who came to ArtHaus, most especially, Andrew, who was my witness and support throughout the 24 hours. Though I was doing this alone, I was very much not alone. I felt the strength of many people, and this was how it was possible for me to fulfill the action. It was and is so wonderfully humbling.

Several individuals and organizations in Decorah very much supported the idea of the project, as well as its logistical needs. Again, I am deeply grateful to Kristen Underwood and Lea Lovelace, co-directors of ArtHaus, who donated the space for the event and also hosted a public discussion of the project. I am grateful to you, too, for any way that you supported or thought about foi2008. I am so fortunate and thankful to live and work in such a rich, generous and vibrant community, both in Decorah and in connection with each of you.

If you attempted to watch the webstream, thank you, and I'm sorry that it didn't work. Andrew tried several times throughout the day to broadcast, but the internet connection just wasn't strong enough. There are photos, though, and I've attached some.

Thank you for reading, and just THANK YOU.
With love, Amanda

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