CHOKE: WITNESS FOR PEACE 2017
Wooden baseball bat, epoxy filler, glass eyes, 33 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
The original version was made in 1998 but is now lost. Reconstructed in 2017.
Glass eyes courtesy of Tohickon Glass Eyes with special thanks to Antonio Alfaro.
On June 17, 1999, National Public Radio reported on British paratroopers who had found a baseball bat in a torture chamber in Pristina, Kosovo. The bat was inscribed with the label "mouth-shutter.”
The existence of torture and its tools persists, despite so many eyewitness accounts and exposes. It is practiced before, during and after wars, overtly and covertly. Those it would harm flee if they can, joining refugees who seek a fundamental safety that home and state no longer provide. Borders define who lives and dies as we watch, eyes wide open. Witnessing without action is the choke—vision squandered and humanity abandoned amongst the rhetorical handwringing.
“But witnesses incur responsibilities, as anyone who has ever seen a traffic accident and had to go to court to testify, knows. In the new world of globally televised war crimes, the defence of 'not knowing,' or neutrality, will dissolve for everyone. To be a witness or bystander is not a value-free choice but, inadvertently, a moral position; and in this sense the 'guilt' of people who live with the memory of crimes committed by members of their families, or communities, has been unwittingly extended to everyone who watches appalling pictures on the news.”
― Erna Paris, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History