Video 1. The campaign in 3 languages
Creation of the artwork
The artwork was mounted in the entrance hall of a building with envelopes containing pieces of messages that people were invited to place on the puzzle. The students also pasted press cuttings of articles on systemic racism around the puzzle. The artwork was displayed on a brick wall in a public place, which alludes to the urban aspect. The outdoors is often the place where minorities and the oppressed express themselves. Finally, the music heard in the background "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday was inspired by a 1937 poem by Abel Meeropol, is an artistic indictment of racism in the United States, and more particularly of the lynchings of African Americans which were at their peak in the segregated South.
The artwork is a large 3D puzzle honouring Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old African-American man shot and killed while unarmed on February 23, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. The choice to create a puzzle was motivated by its coherence with Ludwig von Bertalanffy's systemic theory in "Modern Theories of Development" (1933): each part participates in the construction and recognition of a the whole, the person, an identity. This echoes the idea that the "self" that is constructed through interaction with the “other”. Secondly, the size of the puzzle (1.70 m by 1.50 m) required mutual assistance in order to be built in its entirety, thus, giving body to the idea that individual act does not exist in this work. Moreover, the construction of meaning remains a collective process, for without all the pieces, the portrait of Ahmaud Arbery would not be recognisable, nor would the core message "Justice for Ahmaud" appear on the puzzle. Finally, the notion of circular causality (i.e. everything is linked) is also evoked as each piece is attached to the other and thus creates an undeniable link.
All this served as an artefact to illustrate Wiener’s cybernetics and in particular of the importance of Feedback as an important part of any large-scale complex system such as the society.
In some western countries such as the United States, racism is embedded in the system and is perpetuated In this country, murders of black people occur repeatedly with impunity. It is often justified by the fact that "it has happened before, and it has been like this for a long time". It shows that racism is an ideological entrenchment in the American society that continues to be perpetuated despite the centuries. People who argue in this way use this collective “positive” (amplifier) feedback provided by the white supremacist institutions and the American history to justify their ideologies and actions. The BLM movement is denouncing this systemic feedback loop that feeds racism and is suggesting a way of taking the notion of feedback to change this self-feeding system. The feedback referred to in BLM's communications and actions resembles a parallel feedback loop proposed to replace the current systemic loop of racism in the US and elsewhere.