Nima Nikakhlagh

I am one, but I am one + one + one…

I am one + one + one + one…, 2019
This performance marked the beginning of my silent strike in protest of caged children at the US-Mexico Border.

I stayed continually silent and wore, on my body, the FREE THE CAGED CHILDREN TODAY graphic sign while in official, institutional, and public spaces for three months.

I am one + one + one + one… piece is like a river flowing. This flow, as a large-scale action, is an exercise of the power of one carried out over a long period of time that forces one to make important decisions on a day-to-day basis. This is a practice with the specific purpose of engaging everyday people and stopping them for a dialogue in silence. This form of action continually refreshes itself and its purpose over and over again within its flow. Choosing not to speak but to be is cultivating the notion of activist art action as a strategically manipulated and exercised force. It is a transparent “truth force” providing a context for a political experience in which our being, simultaneously, stands within and stands outside “the state of politics” and “the state of art”. This transparency of the act of not acting – this consecutive silence – re-configures the relationships between the observed and the observer. This encounter is a form of visibility of the power of one that equates to its public invisibility. The power of one is not an exercise of political power. It is an exercise of power balance. It is a resistance, a nonviolent action-being against unequal power. The power of one means we all have the potential to make change happen. It also means, as Lila Abu-Lughod states, that “where there is resistance, there is power.” This kind of dialectical dialogue throughout the piece between the observed and the observer – between the actor, a certain kind of body, the living object, and the people – aims to voice this experience as a common experience within the specific subject of politics. Therefore, this kind of empirical action can frame an aesthetic argumentation in order to make a new experience of speech and (in) visibility of everyday struggle perceptible in everyday life.

Documentation by Sam Tarplin