Social Sculpture with Dread Scott
May 30, 2015

Teens hold hands during a project in the gallery.

A YI Leader pairs up two teens for In Equality. Photograph by Filip Wolak

On May 5, Youth Insights Leaders met with artist Dread Scott to plan a performance for the Teen Opening at the end of May. During the session, Scott challenged YI Leaders to think of a social or political issue facing their generation that could be addressed in the work. After much discussion, YI Leaders settled on a concept for an interactive artwork that had the potential to shed light on topics of race, age, social status, and gender. The piece, titled In Equality, asked teens and Museum visitors to participate at the Teen Opening on May 30.

A group portrait with artist Dread Scott on an outdoor terrace at the museum.

YI Leaders with Dread Scott. Photograph by Filip Wolak

For the activity, YI Leaders wore black T-shirts with the word “Artist” in simple red lettering across the front. Once the Teen Opening event began, Leaders approached random visitors and asked if they would like to participate in an artwork. Once they agreed, they were handed a simple instruction card detailing a not-so-simple task—they were asked to hold hands with a complete stranger. 

Teens hold hands as part of the project.

Teens participate in In Equality. Photograph by Filip Wolak  

YI Leaders were unconventional matchmakers. They paired strangers based on apparent differences rather than similarities. Once Leaders joined the strangers’ hands, they instructed the pair to “enjoy the Museum.” The goal of this artwork was to make participants aware of their first impressions, reservations, enjoyments, judgements, and inhibitions. What happened next was literally in the hands of participants and their reactions to the activity. 

Two adults walks through a gallery during the event.

Adults participate in In Equality. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Perhaps, due to fresh, liberal mindsets or innocent curiosity, teens were open to participating in In Equality and remained with their partners for longer periods of time than adults. This activity broke awkward barriers between friend groups and before long, all of the teens were intermingling. Whether this performance struck the intended social chord or not, it succeeded in persuading teens to talk to each other. 

By Holly, YI Leader