February 22, 2009 - Worcester Art Museum - THINK AGAIN
February 22, 2009


Wall at WAM:
“Actions Speak” by THINK AGAIN
(David John Attyah + S.A. Bachman)

On view through 2009

55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609


Can a picture in a museum—even a 67-foot mural—counter political indifference? Can it provoke us to consider the ways silence amidst a discourse of brutality (whether state-sanctioned, media-driven, or personally inflicted) disconnects us from the individuals (living halfway around the world or in our own neighborhoods) whose bodies are affected? THINK AGAIN believes it can.

David John Attyah (Los Angeles) and S.A. Bachman (Boston/Los Angeles) co-founded the artist-activist collaborative THINK AGAIN in 1997. During the last decade, their projects—billboards, outdoor projections, site-specific installations, postcard interventions, and artist books—have expanded notions of art used for community action and contributed to the contemporary practice of socially conscious art. THINK AGAIN is committed to working both inside and outside of the traditional art sphere. Previous projects have explored issues including the flow of international labor, the treatment of immigrants, the cultural value of sexual liberation, the logic of militarization, and the dynamics of economic inequality, gentrification, and displacement.

In 2007, THINK AGAIN was commissioned by the Worcester Art Museum to create the 7th project for the Wall at WAM, a series of temporary projects sited on a second-story, 17 x 67-foot expanse in the Museum’s Renaissance Court, one of its most public spaces. The Wall at WAM affords leading young artists from around the world unique opportunities and challenges posed by its monumental scale, ephemeral nature, and moving juxtaposition of past and present. THINK AGAIN responded with a multi-media project that focuses on the connections between political brutality and public policy, and reconsiders ongoing social problems like HIV/AIDS and violence against women. Entitled “Actions Speak,” the project is a hybrid of text, photography, drawing, etching, sculpture, digital design, and projection. It is the first in the Wall at WAM series to be realized by an artist collaborative and to utilize both the Museum’s interior wall (for a mural) and exterior façade (where a projection is on view after dark during public evening hours). With Actions Speak, the artists seek to promote dialogue between art and public response, between global reality and local action. Set amidst the Museum’s historic mosaics and within the context of human history as told by artists throughout the ages, THINK AGAIN’s mural expresses a message of critique and possibility for contemporary times.

“The key for us,” Attyah and Bachman explain, “is that viewers come away from the image not with a political opinion, but with an analytical frame—a critical strategy that can be used to evaluate political claims. In this case, whether an individual is watching Dick Cheney, Ben Bernanke, or Barack Obama speak into the microphone, the analytics stand: Do one’s actions speak (as loud as their words)?”

Although intentionally temporary, the Wall at WAM projects often accrue meaning over the brief time they are on view (typically one to two years). The significance of Actions Speak, which was conceived during the final year of the George W. Bush administration and debuted one week before the 2008 Presidential Election, will continue to evolve over the unfolding events of Obama’s first year. Only days after he took office, the rhetoric of violence and justified brutality that characterized Bush’s detention policies for eight long years was reversed by the executive actions of President Obama, who employed the microphone as a catalyst of change by speaking these words, “We don’t torture.”

This project is supported by the Don and Mary Melville Contemporary Art Fund. Additional generous support provided by David and Marlene Persky and Artists’ Resource Trust.

Artist Talk, THINK AGAIN (David John Attyah + S.A. Bachman)
Thursday, March 19 6:30pm
The Museum Café

Outdoor Projection, after dark
Thursday, March 19
Thursday, April 16

Media contact: Allison Berkeley, allisonberkeley@worcesterart.org

Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609


Worcester Art Museum
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