Bystander. Installation art. June Lee. 2020.

“But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

(Luke 23:49)

This installation piece is so powerful. I really encourage you to visit June Lee’s website and see all the images of it. A larger human-sized version of the black huddled figure was also part of a public installation piece, in which the figure was placed on a public sidewalk and then photographs were taken of the people walking past.

I think this work really speaks powerfully to the recent uptick in violence against Asian Americans, and particularly the incident in which a 65 year old Asian American woman was attacked in broad daylight, in view of multiple bystanders who did nothing. I wrote about that yesterday for Good Friday. Today I just want to post this art, along with the words of the artist:

Countless things that happen quietly in our society are cases of bystander effect that make select individuals into outcasts. Thinking how I can become a social outcast due to the distant indifferent bystanders, I find this a serious problem that can’t be overlooked in silence. This work traces individuals becoming an outcast in a society, and how the majority or the society overlooks the individual outcast in silence. Departing from previous materials or working approach, I made small figures for this work. Taking two different postures, the figures either have their arms crossed, or have hands tied behind their back. The two postures symbolize bystanders, hiding their hands and saying “I have no hands to help you” and “I have nothing to do with you.”

-June Lee, artist

Love this work and want to support the artist? As of this post, two of her bystanders are still available for purchase. What a beautiful way to remind yourself to be an aware and responsible bystander.

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