True Compassion, 2012
Video shot and edited by Vladimir Gurewich
Over several months, Evan Bissell worked with Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYS) to define and investigate compassion through discussion of community and historical models, painting, stenciling and writing. Using Martin Luther King, Jr’s definition of true compassion as a starting point, workshop participants created collaborative symbols of compassion: bold, medallion-like paintings that examined compassion on personal and societal levels. These paintings formed the frame for a rotating set of ephemeral, double-portraits drawn in chalk pastel and installed in public on Hyde Street (between Golden Gate and Turk) in the Tenderloin. The portraits depicted LSYS youth clients and staff interacting with themselves in a self-chosen compassionate gesture. Inspired in part by the practice of Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas, the five portraits were left untreated and wiped away each week before the following portrait was created in the same place every Thursday. Passersby frequently questioned why Bissell erased the portraits each week, why do all this work and not make it last? As portraits of neighborhood youth, the impermanent nature served as reminders that true compassion begins by valuing oneself and those already around. Bissell presents a video of the creation and destruction of the portraits.
Participating Artists: Josiah, Reyanna, Evelynn, Brittany, Thomas,
Ceci, Antionay, Yesenia, Manuma, Gia, Aaron, Brittany, Rayana,
Chandra, Kevin, Derek, Ebony, Angel, Felicia, Nigel, Precious, Sara,
Ciara, Pete, Angel, Elter, A.J., Larae, Joseph, Elston, Teana, Ressie,
Mariella, Jovan, Shantel, Jonathan, Joseph, Ishmael, Basir, John, and
Workshop Facilitators: Yukako Ezoe, Lex, Peter Carpou, and Rebeka Rodriguez.
Project Partners: Intersection for the Arts and Larkin Street Youth Services.
Special Thanks: Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Boxcar Theater, Dan Smith,
and the Hyde Street community.
Music: Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Last Poets, and Rich Medina.
Additional Sound and Video Editing: Lucas Guilkey, Alejandro Acosta