The “i’m tired” Project: Body Language
What does a heart do when it aches? What does a spirit do when it has reached its limit? What does a body do when it recognizes trauma?
It takes that pain and turns it into protest. Enter “i’m tired” founders Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans, the driving force behind this crucial project, one that is both vulnerable and powerful at the same time, a genuine reflection of the body itself.
The body is a vehicle. It takes us from point-a to point-b, mentally, physically, and emotionally. It, quite literally, carries us. It carries us from here to there. It carries us through. It carries us above, beyond, and below. The body is the greatest technology this world has ever seen.
What other technology can take pain and turn it into beauty?
None. Only the human body has that capacity.
And that’s why the “i’m tired” project deserves our attention. Not only is it speaking on the body, even about the body, it’s also speaking directly to wounds that are felt in the body. Wounds, not always visual, speak on our behalf. They say where we have been, who we are, and where we plan to go. Our wounds define us. And sometimes, it’s the silence of our wounds that speaks loudest.
Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans are fighting back in the name of the body. In doing so, they hone the body’s power. Akpan and Evans stand for the body and they lean into it, using it as canvas. Quite literally, they are making protest signs on the body. This is political art. It’s the type of art that can change notions and nation if we let it. The question is, are we willing to look at the wounds and not look away? Are we willing to call people out? Are we willing to reveal our truth despite aggression, assumptions, and stereotypes?
As Ai Weiwei said, “If my art has nothing to do with people’s pain and sorrow, what is ‘art’ for?“ It appears that Akpan and Evans’ approach to their entire project is predicated on pain as catalyst. Some believe art and protest cannot be separated, that extrapolating one from the other waters down the objective and minimizes trauma.
Art, after all, should provoke communication, if not thought. Akpan and Evans offer real life stories that reflect the viewer in some way. In using the body, the “i’m tired” project entertains a conversation between the viewer and the anonymous body. The creators are surely striving to make us more human and that starts with compassion. Compassion begins when humans tell their truth and expose their true selves.
The “i’m tired” project has garnered awards and attention alike. And with good reason –this is a project worthy of all our praise. Everyone’s willingness to be naked reveals our need for compassion. The human body and experience want to be recognized as much as they want to be reflected. In viewing another’s story written on the body, we can experience our own. Here in the “i’m tired” project, the dichotomy of our human existence has never been made more apparent.
WORDS BY: Jacklyn Janeksela