Featured Friend Friday presents . . . Guclu Aydogdu, Sera Çakıroğlu, Başak Gökçe, and Todd Nelson
I worked with Guclu, Sera, Basak, and Todd during the Sticks + Stones: Berlin Project. They produced, filmed, starred-in and edited a film that was featured in the exhibition. Our main experiment was to question people: “What would you call me behind my back” and have them write their answers physically on their back.
It is a lovely children’s rhyme but does it speak the truth? To explore the human tendency to categorize and label those around us, we designed t-shirts imprinted with the question: “What would others call me behind my back?” Students invited strangers on the streets of Berlin to express their feelings by inking their opinions on the back of their shirts. This initiative was meant to give physicality to the way we label each other. The writers of these opinions pressed their words onto the back of the t-shirt wearer, and in turn, those students felt these labels and assumptions being forced upon their backs.
As many students realized, this was not an easy endeavor. Inviting others to openly judge and visibly label them, was an exercise in risk, potential danger, and emotional turmoil. Todd Nelson, the first t-shirt wearer, was asked afterward, “Would you do it again?”
His answer was an emphatic No.
This initiative provides insight into the true nature of words. They can push us into action. We hope these t-shirts promote you to act: Carefully consider the words you use as they hold great power to heal or to wound, an idea in contrast to the nursery rhyme.
Watch their excellent video here: Sticks + Stones: Berlin (2010) Video