I have been called “Bitch” too many times in my life—often by men who owed me their respect or even their support. It took me a long time to realize that these forms of verbal abuse were not about me at all, but about the fact that I had questioned, challenged, outsmarted, or spoken back to a man. Their pride had been hurt—so they decided to hurt me. This video work documents my process of unlearning years of internalized insults, of recognizing my own power and resolving that I won’t let anyone take it away.
In an empty, white-walled room, I walk up to a blackboard with a piece of chalk in my hand. On the vacant, black surface, I write the words, “You’re a bitch.” I stand back a moment, as though considering the words I have just written. Then I erase the sentence. I write it again. Erase. I repeat this series of actions, writing then erasing the same phrase repeatedly, until there is no chalk left. I get another piece of chalk. This time, I write, “You’re wise.” I write this phrase again and again, allowing the board to fill up with the words. I write until there are only slivers of blank space in a sea of chalky marks. I consider this piece both a video work and an event score, one which I invite others to perform publicly or privately.
- Walk to the chalkboard.
- Take a piece of chalk. Write a phrase that someone has wrongfully said to you—or something that you would like to stop believing about yourself.
- Erase the phrase.
- Repeat this process, writing the phrase and erasing it until the chalk runs out.
- Erase the board completely.
- Pick up another piece of chalk. Write the words that you want to believe in, words that describe the person that you are or the one that you want to be.
- Write this phrase over and over again so that the words accumulate on the board, building gradually, filling up the vacant spaces. Write until there are no unwritten spaces, until the blackboard is entirely covered in chalk.