I devote my time to many projects. One of those special projects is serving as Hyphen magazine’s art editor. Hyphen is an all-volunteer Asian American culture and politics online and print magazine. We tell stories that don’t make it to mainstream media. We share experiences of our Asian American brothers and sisters. We spread awareness of diverse issues within our community. We do it because we love it. And we know that each story and piece of artwork benefits our entire community.
Next year, Hyphen wants to focus on a topic we can all relate to: Health. There are many unspoken and obscured realities that Asian American individuals, families and communities face that need to be shared. As a volunteer-run publication, we can’t do this alone. We’re asking for the collective support from loved ones, friends, dedicated readers and beyond to help us realize the “The Health Issue”.
I made a personal commitment of $150! Please help me reach my goal.
By contributing to The Health Issue, you will be educating the community, erasing stigmas and changing attitudes and beliefs about physical and mental disabilities and illness. Each dollar raised will go towards production costs of the magazine, including printing, artist and writer compensation, shipping, etc. All donors will be acknowledged online and in print. Based on your donation, you have the opportunity to receive some great perks for your generosity, which may include: Hyphen swag, a copy of Jeff Chang’s new book Who We Be: The Colorization of America, or an exclusive video chat with comedian and actor, Kristina Wong.
OUR HEALTH ISSUE WILL INCLUDE COVERAGE OF:
Increasing rates of diabetes among APIs
Same-sex abortion bans
And more in-depth storytelling of other health issues within our community
YOUR DONATION WILL GO TOWARD:
Printing 1,000 copies of the issue
Shipping the issue to supporters, universities, and libraries
While this virtual space is dedicated to my research and writing on new media as well as the Bay Area arts community, I felt compelled to share a tumblr that has been circulating on the Internet. Under the current social and political circumstances (let’s not forget the womyns body being a huge issue at the moment as well), this past weekend has been extremely traumatizing for all people. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity, religion, culture, or sub-culture you identify with, our world is changing in ways I was hoping it would not. Processing the Zimmerman verdict has been difficult. There have been many horrendous things posted on the Internet. I forget how cruel virtual space can be and how eye opening it is that our country thinks about race, gender, and identity in ways that are destructive and unhealthy (I’m basing this on the media and comments I read on news postings, articles, and blog posts). I’m incensed by the lack of sensitivity and the way people conduct themselves in virtual spaces, specifically social media. It’s an extremely tense time for all and let’s not forget about the story of Marissa Alexander who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots (NOT killing anyone) and these shots were fired to ward off her abuser. I’m trying to process everything that is happening because being a womyn of color downright frightens me.
Yet there is hope. In reading some of the posts that have been submitted to the “We Are not Trayvon Martin” tumblr, I believe this is one of the ways to connect to one another. Some of these posts had me pondering how can we, as a society and culture, evolve to a higher level of consciousness. For a long time, I was convinced that it could be done through the arts. I still hold on to this belief but I know it needs to be done through story telling and narrative. This project is a wonderful way to help facilitate and bridge gaps in understanding each other. I know this is an extremely emotionally charged post (and I am militantly opposed to the structures that hold oppressed people down when it is the law and the system that should protect us). But I wanted to share and invite people willing to engage in telling their own stories. I’m definitely here to read and “listen.”
#FREEBASSEL CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO BRING HOME LOVED AND CELEBRATED INTERNET VOLUNTEER DETAINED IN SYRIA
Damascus — Tuesday, 3 July 2012 – Today marks the launch of the #FREEBASSEL campaign to bring about the release of Bassel Khartabil, known widely on the Internet and in technology communities as Bassel Safadi. Bassel is a resident of Damascus, Syria, a technology pioneer and respected community leader. He is a loving family member and friend to countless people at home and around the world. He has been detained since March 15, 2012, without trial. Today the campaign learned Bassel is being held at security detention branch 291 in Kafer Sousa, a facility that was uncovered in the recent Human Rights Watch report “Syria: Torture Centers Revealed.”
The #FREEBASSEL campaign launched today by releasing a letter signed by leading supporters and organizations that Bassel has worked with for some time including support from Joi Ito, Chaiman of the Board for Creative Commons, Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School Professor, Jimmy Wales, and already 577 others from around the world who have signed a letter of support to #FREEBASSEL. The letter is directed at the Syrian Government, people living in Syria, Internet citizens and related diplomats worldwide with the goal to raise awareness about Bassel’s situation to see him free once more.
The letter reads:
To Whom it May Concern:
On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location known as branch 291.
Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.
Since then, Bassel has become known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org). Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.
Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.
We, the signees of the #FREEBASSEL campaign, demand immediate information regarding his detention, health, and psychological state.
We urge the Syrian Government to release the community member, husband-to-be, son to a mother and father, and celebrated International software engineer Bassel Khartabil, immediately.
#FREEBASSEL is a campaign to bring about the safe and immediate release of Bassel Khartabil from wrongful detainment in Syria since March 2012. He is a well known contributor to global software and culture communities like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library,
Fabricatorz, and Sharism. He is missed by these communities, his family, friends and loved ones. The campaign says, “We will not stop campaigning for him until we see him as a free global citizen once again.”
The virtually untraceable art collective HUSH has done an excellent job at creating work that is fugitive and fleeting. Contemporary art increasingly entails questioning aspects of consumerism, commoditization, and the prevailing system of values over creating something for our eyes to gaze upon. HUSH’s work—a hybrid of activism and criminal activity—provokes us to see all the aforementioned within a legal construct, yet through an artistic lens. Politics and law serve as their ready-mades. They command our intellect be involved when examining their work and to react with a critical eye.
The surreptitious nature of their art heightens its value without much effort on their part. Based on the economic model of supply and demand, HUSH’s work is priceless. Not only is it unfeasible to sell the output of what they produce, the group takes it a step further and manages to catapult any documentation of their work. It becomes irretrievable and irreproducible.
In reminding us that art does not have to become a commodity, HUSH also calls into question the necessity for a maker. Is identification necessary? Should the public or HUSH followers know these renegade, almost vigilante, artists? I say no. The only individuals who should be privy to their identities are the collaborators themselves. This enigmatic nature makes their work all the more potent and proves a serious challenge to the art world. In some ways, their effective anonymity could herald the demise of the concept of the artist. Yet, I’m sure with their continued efforts to create incendiary work that provokes and thrusts its way into our visual landscapes, they must continue to stay apparitions.
Paradoxically, there is safety for these artists living and working outside the boundaries of the art world. Their activities seem to show us that we are not as free as we would like to think. I’d like to imagine that this clever art collective sits and connives atop some constructed Bentham panopticon, keeping watch.