What I Learned About Freedom

Blog post #3 in the documentation of Pathways to Freedom, a forthcoming public art project by London-based artist Julia Vogl.

By Julia Vogl

 

It was a pleasure to present my work and meet with so many people across Boston last month.

Not only did I learn a great deal about the concept of Freedom through my mini interactive workshop, but I also felt I got to know about the city. I never thought I would know so much about Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester- but because of my great guide (Joey Baron), I feel I have a much better lay of the land. Why is this important?

What I learned most acutely is that every street in Boston has a story about strangers who settled there. Like the Exodus story, groups of people had to make peace– not only with living in a foreign place, but also living with neighbors who were likewise living in a foreign place. Regardless of why they arrived, Boston became home, (And I am glad you can still find awesome cannoli’s.)

But movement seems key to my research. In my mini workshop, 75 individuals generously shared:
1. if they had recently travelled;
2. how many times they had moved in their lives; and,
3. what freedom meant to them.

When I asked what Freedom meant to them this is some of what was shared:

FREEDOM TO FAIL / LIBERTY / UNBOUNDED / OPPRESSION / OPPORTUNITY / CHOICE / CONTROL / PEACE / ENJOY / TIES THAT BIND / NOT ACCESSIBLE / NO RULES / EXPRESSION OF OUR FEELING / RESPONIBILITY / A RELEASE / CHOICE/ TO BE ONESELF / FREEDOM TO FAIL / PRECIOUS / TAKEN FOR GRANTED / INNER PEACE / MY CAR / AGENCY / TIME / CONNECTIONS / NO RESTRICTIONS / CHOICE / HAPPINESS / OWNERSHIP / BREATH / BEING IN CONTROL / TIME / VOICE / FREEDOM TO FAIL/

The most common word written was CHOICE. Both positively empowering and also weighted in responsibility, the term was discussed in many contexts.

It’s not an easy choice to engage, to take action, but sometimes, like in our current global refugee crisis – you can not sit still.

With this responsibility, I am very excited to take that challenge on with the Jewish Arts Collaborative team and create a project. A meaningful public artwork that will be a beacon to collect the many strangers’ voices who have settled here, whether it be 100 years ago or yesterday- and let them be heard. A project that can manifest more voices while building an artwork that celebrates them, Boston, and our Exodus history.

Thank you to all who took part, I really appreciated your participation, and this has been helpful in me shaping a future artwork.

 

Stay tuned for more updates as this project develops by following the Jewish Arts Collaborative Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JewishArtsCollaborative/