Preview: Mapping Dissent: Planning a Course for an Uncertain Future

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Jack Alegre
Staff Writer

In order to match the anxieties of the times, art must be flexible and reflective of the challenges within society. Thankfully, on April 13, you will be able to see that responsiveness for yourself with Mapping Dissent.

Mapping Dissent is designed to give voice to the emotions and fears of many in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual community in response to the perceived chaos of the 2016 United States presidential election. Lorena Wolffer, the project’s mastermind, is a Mexican activist-artist. For her, exhibitions like Mapping Dissent are important because they allow for a wider variety of people to view her work in an organic and tangible environment.

According to Wolffer, the project is focused on the effects that cross, regulate, and define women and LGBTQIA individuals today,” and how those effects influence their “interaction with others and with the power structures that surround and legislate.” It seeks to analyze the structures of power that constrain and cultivate fear amongst LGBTQIA individuals and how they feel about such bindings.

Mapping Dissent draws its strength from its dedication to the cause of giving a voice to the individual, as well as engaging the public about those same fears and worries. Wolffer stressed to The Bottom Line that Mapping Dissent is a part of a “long-term participatory public art project,” meaning that it is not only the culmination of countless years of activist art but also meant to draw in the public.

Wolffer says that an integral part of Mapping Dissent is the reading of testimonials of LGBTQIA individuals who have to confront the uncertainty of the election and their political future. For example, the banner of the Mapping Dissent Facebook page is a quote from a queer student named Jaime: “November 8: the Day I realized that we really hadn’t left the closet. The world had shoved us back in. Then set fire to it.”

Powerful statements such as this will be seen across campus as interested participants join the procession. They also give a greater sense of urgency to the concerns of queer individuals. Rather than relying on the pretensions and biases of one particular artist, it allows for a multitude to speak their mind. This creates a more grounded and relatable piece that humanizes the subject in the eyes of the viewer.

Mapping Dissent’s involvement of a collective walk lends a public and participatory nature to the work that traditional methods of display lack. It engages the audience and calls their attention to specific human voices. Mapping Dissent draws its strength from the real and relatable, not the abstract and esoteric.

When asked about her experience with the project, Wolffer was pleased.

I think it already has achieved very much during the first phase in which the testimonies were collected,” she said. “There is an enormous power in the very act of stating these queer testimonies”

The act of recounting one’s anxieties and fears is a cathartic and moving experience. By taking the time to listen to the queer people whose words and voices make up Mapping Dissent, Wolffer praises their courage and restores their sense of self and dignity. That is what she hopes to accomplish with Mapping Dissent: to tell the story of scared individuals and to help them regain some sense of self in this hectic world.

Mapping Dissent will take place Thursday at 12:45 p.m. at Storke Tower.

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