“Those who won our independence believed … that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government… the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
– Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Whitney v. California (1927)
“My lips are moving and the sound's coming out
The words are audible but I have my doubts
That you realize what has been said…
What are words for
When no one listens anymore?...”
– Missing Persons (Terry John Bozzio & Warren Cuccurullo), from the song Words, 1982
There are a mere forty-five words that make up the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The many rights conveyed through this string of words have been the subject of interpretation since their initial writing and ratification in 1791. These words serve as both subject matter as well as physical and phenomenological material in RoCoCo’s latest mixed media installation entitled Selective Hearing.
RoCoCo takes on the very meaning of interpretation through a combination of assorted media which present the words of the First Amendment in visible, tangible, and audible forms. What does this string of words mean? Can their meaning be discerned through today’s lens of constantly “breaking” and “fake news” or is their significance languishing and structurally falling apart? How do these words invoke meaning when placed together? Is their placement considered, careless, haphazard, or some combination?
RoCoCo created this installation for the curatorial premise behind the exhibition Notes On Democracy. In Selective Hearing, the presentation of the words of the First Amendment in disjointed voices, filtered through delicate fabric, seemingly silent actions and spoken words, RoCoCo considers how our individual and collective freedoms start with choice for our beings; our words, what we hear, say and do.
Selective Hearing was created for the exhibition Notes On Democracy at the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americano (MACLA) in San Jose. This exhibition runs through March 11, 2018.