Thursday, April 14, 2016

Alicia Grullón reenacts Wendy Davis's Texas filibuster at BRIC

Alicia Grullón performs Filibuster
at BRIC House
(all photos: Eva Yaa Asantewaa)

It began with a pair of pink Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoes. On June 25, 2013, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis stood for 11 hours in these pink sneakers, filibustering against a restrictive abortion bill and creating history. Bronx artist Alicia Grullón will recreate this piece of history in its entirety (in an identical pair of pink Mizuno shoes) from 10am until 9pm Wednesday, April 13 at BRIC House.
--posted by BRIC Art Blogger, March 25, 2016

When, with the anti-abortion bill HB60, a defiant Texas legislature wedged itself between women and their physicians, State Senator Wendy Davis took a stand--literally--hour by hour, speaking truth to power. Her 11-hour embodied act of principle was not a stunt, and neither was FilibusterAlicia Grullón's reenactment of this historic and remarkable effort, presented as part of the BRIC House exhibition, Whisper Or Shout: Artists in the Social Sphere.

I spent just one half-hour, yesterday, seated in front of Grullón on the porch at BRIC, but each of those thirty minutes hit hard. One particular story cited in the letters Davis/Grullón read concerned an expectant couple told their baby was severely ill and would not survive. Day and night, the mother lived with anguish that her child might die inside her before she could ever see and hold her.

"I was petrified that my baby was going to die while I was asleep," she wrote. "We decided to have labor induced. We were informed that it really wasn't possible." Why? Because her health insurance was provided by her employer, a faith-based firm.

"Knowing that your daughter is dying is heartbreaking," she wrote. "It feels as if your soul is ripping apart."

But the legislators who heedlessly wandered in and out of the Texas chambers as Davis read these words and other testimony had no interest in real life, just the pandering politics of so-called "pro-life."

Grullón read from another protesting letter: "I've seen the 1950s, and I don't want to go back there."

I witnessed only a short part of Filibuster--neither Grullón's first reenactment nor her first filibuster, as you can read here--but I know the physical, mental and emotional discipline required to perform it must have been enormous. As a woman of color, Grullón committed to this challenge to underscore the impact of retrogressive social policies on women and families of color and the need for us to be at the forefront of movements for social justice.

The exhibition Whisper or Shout: Artists in the Social Sphere continues through May 1 in the Gallery at BRIC House. Click here for information.

BRIC House
647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn

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