Bambitchell's Silent Citizen

Decent Essays
Critical Art Reflection on Bambitchell’s Silent Citizen

Silent Citizen powerfully explores the ways that language is constrained and wielded as to shore up state power. Bambitchell’s participatory art piece highlights how the use of the English language proficiency test is an exclusionary state practice—the subjugating effects of which are masterfully communicated through the utilization of silence. Pairing the power of language and silence to not only talk about the ways language structures our ability to function in space, but to also expose how testing environments are indicative of the states immense disciplinary role, marks an important shift in understanding how differential oppositional consciousness is cultivated (Sandoval, 62). The
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This piece highlights the ways in which diverse identities are erased under the guise of a homogenized national subject. This project imagines multiculturalism and assimilation politics within a dystopian lens, which calls “proper” citizen subjects into question by engaging them in the very structure that sustains power in “proper” sites and bodies. I found reciting the test excited thoughts of my own history in relation to citizenship, as I was reminded that my parents had to successfully complete this exam. This project boldly unmasks how representational tactics fail to engage with the diverse and varied backgrounds of those it claims to support, and instead creates a grotesque amalgamation of normative immigrant identities that works to reinstate the model assimilated minority. This is explored within Gloria Anzaldua’s work as she highlights that one of the crucial steps in reimaging the postmodern subject is unlearning the implicit ways that reality is shaped by dualisms (Anzaldua, 9). The use of dualistic thinking in understanding cultures, bodies, spaces, and lives remains one of the ways that duality maintains structural racism, xenophobia, and exclusionary
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