Beacon Project

Words I wish I said before

Words I wish I said before (2021) is a video documentation of an interactive media installation, where people of color from different races create a utopian space for communal care. As they take on the responsibility to consistently advocate for social equality, they are susceptible to activist burnout. Through a collection of audio recordings, united voices reassure the listener of their racial identity, hoping to rekindle the relationship to their communities and past generations. Words I wish I said before is an act of collective preservation responding to the present, and envisioning a racially conscious future.

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The ongoing social movements for racial equality and the lack of response in concrete plans for systemic change have placed an immense responsibility on activists of color to constantly, urgently and devotedly work towards dismantling racism. The expectation to selflessly fight back for long-term periods of time is emotionally demanding and in some cases, unsustainable. Such self-sacrifice becomes counterproductive when we are not prepared to repeatedly face triggering experiences, handle defeat and a slow, taxing process of change.

Words I wish I said before (2021) is an interactive, media installation, where people of color from different races create a utopian, uplifting space for collective recuperation and preservation. It exists in between our present fight for racial equality and our vision of a racially conscious and emancipated future. The video documentation captures an excerpt of the installation and its
audience interaction.

A microphone is spot lit in the centre of a dark room as a bank of recorded voices, reassuring their listener through positive affirmations, are looped on a sound system. A button is attached to the microphone. When an audience member approaches it, presses and holds the button, the audio stops playing and a section of the transcript is projected on the wall in front of the mic stand. The audience is prompted to repeat a segment of the speakers’ words and continue the cyclical process of community support, as their recording is added to the audio compilation. Within this enclosed, safe space, Words I wish I said before invites the audience to become conscious of their emotional state, recharge energies and return to advocate for social justice. Our act of communal care is a political act of survival in an oppressive society. Words I wish I said before manages the contradictions of being grounded to the generational
trauma of racism, as the voices in the audio recordings acknowledge the influence of white supremacy. Yet, those answers do not repeat or emphasize our pain, but instead encourage each other to accept it as one dimension of our identities, and reclaim what white standards have portrayed as inferior qualities. The video is a result of the sacrifice of our ancestors, existing in between how we embody their history and eventually, how we’ll act as pathways for future generations. It is a proposal for reclamation of power and a challenge against racial hierarchies that divide us.

Prerecorded Activism Digital Art