Speaking in Silence

Speaking in Silence 1.1

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Description: The prevalence of the facemask in Vietnam worn by locals on motorbikes (to reduce dust or pollution exposure) was a significant visual feature of street life.  The Action Researcher/Performer purchased a range of white facemasks in order to communicate through words stencilled on the outside.  These words identified ideas that were not possible for a ‘foreigner’ to say without a command of the local language.  Words such as 'yes', 'see' and 'other' were stencilled and then worn in public spaces around Hanoi.  A park location was chosen to wear the masks for a longer duration of time, but this location was later found out to be a meeting place for young couples.  Moments after the Action Researcher/Performer placed the mask over her mouth, a man stopped to sit on the same bench and began asking many questions.  Due to his determination to continue engaging, he happily agreed to wear some of the masks himself, sitting then silently side by side with the Action Researcher/Performer.


© Astra Howard 2014