We are the 99% Hanging On

Christopher Columbus, returning to Spain from his voyage to the New World, encountered a storm. He threw into the sea a sealed cask with a report of his discovery, along with a note to pass it on to the Queen of Spain, in case he should not reach the shore.

Columbus survived to reveal his discovery, but aren’t we all seeking to tell the story of the New World?

We are the 99% Hanging On was an installation exhibited during the 2012 National Council on Educational for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) “On the Edge” Exhibition held in Seattle. 99 ash-glazed bottles were embossed with drawings and stamped with phrases cried out during Occupy movement gatherings and hung with black tar fishing ropes from a timber roof beam.

Suspending the bottles, with their symbolic resemblance to the human body (distinct ‘necks’ and ‘shoulders’), from the ceiling conveyed a sense of “hanging on” and waiting. The thought of hopeless waiting led to the classic image of a “message in a bottle” sent out by a shipwrecked sailor over the harsh and empty seas to an unconcerned world.

These gestures of the body and the shout for help are brought together in the American folk song 99 Bottles of Beer, with its repetitious lyrics; verse after verse, one bottle falls down and we count those which remain; evoking, perhaps a feeling of the atmosphere pervasive in the Occupy movement rallies. Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, Ninety-nine bottles of beer.
 Take one down, pass it around, Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall.

Occupy Wall Street, always more than opposition to the Big Banks and Modern Finance, has grown into a megaphone amplifying our demands for equality; bent on exposing the socio-economic patterns of injustice which have resulted in a disproportionate concentration of wealth among the top 1% of the economic spectrum. The potent slogans that came out of the movement fascinated me and became the messages in the bottles, which are sent to the unknown institutions, organizations and corporations as a plea for greater economic fairness.

Instead of inserting scraps of paper into the bottles, I wrote and stamped onto their surfaces quotes from the Movement’s Declaration, placards and picket signs, and from people who supported the movement through the media; in addition to drawings such as the drummer who leads the march. As variable groupings of bottles sway, and as each bottle moves slightly on its own, I intended to portray a visual howl that is derived from rage and tiresome at the same time:

The opposite of poverty is not wealth
the opposite of poverty is justice

It was the unions that made a hard job into a good job

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice

The system is not broken the system is FIXED

There is the 1% and the rest of us

We are the 99%

Ceramic bottles installation. We are the 99 percent
Ceramic Bottles Installation We are the 99 percent
ash glaze bottle Poverty
Ceramic bottles installation. We are the 99 percent detail
Ceramic bottles installation. We are the 99 percent detail
Ceramic bottles installation. We are the 99 percent detail