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Einat Amir (born in Jerusalem, 1979) is a video and performance artist who currently lives and works in New York and Tel Aviv. Her art powerfully challenges her audience to test their boundaries by asking them to learn new strategies to effectively communicate with strangers.

Our Best Intentions (2013), a project commissioned by Artis for Performa 13 in New York this past November, included an installation with participatory performance and video components that interweaved psychotherapy and theater in the experience. Participants wore black vests with words on them—“Mother,” “Desire,” “Future,” “Lover,” and “Humiliation,” among others. They were guided through different exercises and performances by professional instructors, and asked to represent themselves with noises and movements. The work investigates how we as individuals express ourselves and interact with one another.

In a similar style, Amir created a lab to monitor encounters in an earlier work, Enough About You (2011). She invited individuals to participate in a structured experimental conversation that was observed by an audience. The project is particularly relevant in a world dominated by social media, and given the ease with which we form opinions about strangers. It questions how we encounter each other in the digital age, and asks how we might authentically meet someone today.

Samuel Jablon for Guernica

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The short of it is that anytime a wrong has happened, you need somebody to acknowledge that something wrong has happened. Just the fact that people can’t wrap their head around the fact that this was something that happened to you that should not have happened to you, that it’s not okay. One of the biggest harms is that these guys are victims, but they don’t even get a chance to name their victimhood because there is such a huge culture of masculinity, it would be like, why are you complaining about that? If nobody even recognizes that that’s a problem then there’s not going to be any services, or any education, or any intervention to address it. And because people don’t understand that, then what happens is it deepens the harm.

Brenda Smith, a professor of law at American University, discusses the problem of prison rape and helped shape legislation that addresses it.

Joaquin Sapien: Guarded Optimism - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

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