No Hate Crimes (Reported)
“No Traffic Fatalities in ____ Days” signs seen in some communities redux. The information is communicated through the conflict of emotions these signs elicit: as we feel relief or civic pride over a (seemingly) long period of time without a traffic death (or local hate crime), we are at the same time reminded of an unpleasant truth, in this case the knowledge that the denial of basic civil and human rights exists right here and vicious acts of destruction are perpetrated close to home. When the day-count numbers are low, this realization may be most powerful. Awareness of this issue, as with all social maladies, can be the first stage of a population affecting positive social change within its community.
A brief list of recent hate crimes in Georgia as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center:
- Lawrenceville: Swastikas and obscenities burned into the lawn of a Jewish family’s home.
- Statesboro: Anti-gay epithets spray-painted on a student’s car at Georgia Southern University.
- Athens: Swastikas and a racial epithet spray-painted on a black family’s home.
- Trenton: A cross burnt into the yard of a woman whose daughter has a biracial boyfriend.
- Canton: A Latino man abducted by four white students, subjected to a 30-minute pummeling, left bruised and blooded from thighs to neck.
Verso the billboard is static, a high contrast display of run-on statistical data on hate crimes in the United States as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2003. Recto displays specific data on the crimes committed within a set radius, keeping track of the number of days passed since this last reported hate crime. This counter has an upper and lower panel, and will need to be monitored for daily updates. Laminated number cards will be supplied to account for any possible numerical arrangement, and a student would be hired to assist with this daily manual ritual on the upper panel. Hate crimes reported within a 200-mile radius of the counter will be monitored. In the event a new crime is posted by the SPLC during the run of the exhibition, a replacement lower panel with details of the crime will be fabricated and immediately shipped for installation, with the student lowering the numbers to a sobering depth.
All images are virtual representations.
Bill Fisher is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. His work has been widely exhibited and reviewed.