The installation “View from the High Ground” renders dehumanization—the cognitive shift that allows humans to treat one another in the same despicable ways that we sometimes treat animals—as an interactive process. Dehumanization is the fourth of genocide’s ten stages. The piece focuses on nine of the genocides of the past 500 years: Genocides of American Indians, African Americans, Australian Aborigines, Armenians, the Holocaust, genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and the genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar. It consists of nine hand made books drawn into the pages of an old zoology text, arranged in chronological order, embedded in slate and placed on a tall white washed wood tabletop supported by pipes and furnace parts. The interactive component of the piece—the handmade books presented here—forces the viewer to experience dehumanization, to literally feel their hand in it, as they page through the images.
My intent is to awaken the viewer to recognizing this practice as they transform images back and forth between human/beast/predator/vermin/parasite and various chimera. The animals chosen for each book were drawn from those specific to that region and from the hate rhetoric and mechanisms specific to each of the genocides. The title, “View from the High Ground” reflects the characteristics that all these genocides share despite their spatial and historical specificity. It serves as a call to all of us to take that high ground. Through recognition we can end dehumanization and in the process stop genocide.