In the Barrier performance words float in the air but are strangely stiff and lay flat against a plane. A woman kneels, pulls a thread, and slowly unravels the words, “justify” “clarify” “instead” “holding” “against,” etc. She then turns her attention to the ground beneath her and presses the thread into its surface.
The story narrated in this space, of which the words embroidered on the screen are derived, is one of humiliation, misunderstanding, efforts to assimilate. The erasure of the words is violent: they are plucked out of the surface. But it is also a story one of empowerment, resistance, resilience, and a reclaiming of agency. The performer can choose which words/ phrases to unravel and when to leave a remnant of the word in place. Her “writing” is a physical action and bears the consequence of marking. The pattern she presses the thread back into the ground does not form text in a literal sense, (she is not making intelligible letter forms of any language) but is charged with the essence of inscription. She is reacting, interpreting, and inventing the meaning of the words that she is transferring from one plane to another.