As philosopher and mystic Simone Weil said, “affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.” In the wake of the physical and emotional tumult gripping the United States, a time when civil discourse is under siege, I find myself swimming in a surface of numbness with a phantom pain reaching up from the void below. My life’s work seeks to find a way back to the world, bridging gaps and building connection by way of radical listening and engagement.
Research, performance, and activism are tools with which to build the stories that can connect us. Investing in time-intensive projects to gather those stories has become a lynchpin of my practice. From this follows a series of intuitive studio processes to uncover how to share those stories. All this exists with the goal—both gathering and sharing—of giving others the opportunity to reconsider their place in the story as well.
This work straddles the make/think divide, collecting ideas, making meaning, and composing experiences for myself and my viewers to engage. I am a maker who sees the essential place of craft and aesthetic maturity in visual, time, and body-based work. Objects and artifacts become the narrators. Collecting and storytelling are ways of making more than sense—they are ways to cope with our feelings of isolation and division. They are ways to rewrite the story.
—Victoria Bradford Styrbicki