It is possible that I may have overbooked myself this summer. Is three internships too many? I don't know, maybe. For me, I see this as "the summer of responsibility." (Nevermind the fact that I don't actually have a paying job….) [Editor's note: FREE-LANCE!] As I am running around from borough to borough on various errands I ask myself questions about responsibility—what do I have to do for these people? What are my duties right now? Would I rather be sleeping? (Yes, almost always.)
One of my internships is helping a woman of Korean descent create a documentary about North Korea; I transcribe video interviews. Her film is kind of like a braided string. She intertwines political history, family accounts, and personal stories into a cohesive narrative. She explains it as a piece that "embarks on a personal journey to explore the geopolitical effects of war and colonialism on a deeply personal level." As I watch these interviews, I come to understand each interviewee's personal history, unique individual challenges, and elements of identity. The conversations I transcribe also speak to the idea of "Responsibility"—responsibility to country and family, responsibility to the self, one's individual duties as a citizen.
Inevitably, I start to question my own responsibility, which I believe is entwined with identity. How does my responsibility and identity differ from the interviewees whose stories I record? I am a nineteen year old queer woman of color who wants to be an artist someday—so what is my unique responsibility, both to myself and others? I break it down into units:
what is my responsibility as a nineteen year old?
what is my responsibility as a queer person?
what is my responsibility as a woman?
what is my responsibility as a person of mixed race?
what is my responsibility as an artist?
My identity is defined in and by politics and thus I feel compelled to act responsibly on behalf of all these units of identity. Each unit seems to carry its own voice and particular weight. How do I act upon this responsibility? Additionally, what are my duties as a minority?
To me, the most significant of these minority facets is the artist component because I see artists as communicators, creators, catalysts of change and conversation. (I don't know why all those start with C…) So, how do I appropriately hone my ability to create and synthesize change into meaningful practice? On a grander scale, what is the duty of the artist? I think that here in New York, artists of all types carry a great deal of social and cultural responsibility. Without their efforts, what would New York be?
At this point I've said the word responsibility so many times that I don't really even know what it means anymore. I'm not really sure what the answers to these questions are, so maybe this summer will just be "the summer of figuring out what responsibility means."