Tell Me What I Can Do

Twenty-eight showings of Gardens Speak across five continents produced an archive of audience letters written as part of the performance. These handwritten letters, artifacts of each performance, provide insight into the varied audience experiences of Gardens Speak, including their reflections on politics, empathy, loss, and death. The letters were first conceptualized as a message of solidarity that would be written by audiences around the world and sent back to the families and friends of the deceased whose stories they shared.
A few years later, the pile of letters kept growing. With it, came the realization that the contents of letters are overwhelmingly complex, messy, and intimate. They could not be reduced to a simple message of solidarity.

Tell Me What I Can Do is a sentence written in a number of audience letters, asking the martyrs of Gardens Speak for guidance. In this installation, the artist asks the audience for guidance on what to do with the accumulated material—evidence of our encounter and our shared responsibility. The installation also features responses to the letters from some of the early collaborators in the making of Gardens Speak. Not all audience letters made it into the installation. Some were lost along the way, confiscated by police. Others will be buried in the ground, never to be read.

Credits:
Comissioned by Bryn Mawr College for ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury
Space Design: Abir Saksouk
Sound Pieces: Kinana Issa, Mohamed Nour “Abo Gabi” Ahmed, Mohamed Ali “Dali” Agrebi
Translation: Ziad Abu-Rish
Installation Coordinator: Jon Weary