Blind Passenger: The process of employing, or one who employs the strategy of socio-cultural appropriation without permission for the purpose of cultural survival, critique, and proliferation. The Blind Passenger’s pilfering and appropriation across socio-political borders transforms stagnant patterns of cultural protectionism – changing notions of what belongs to whom, when and under what circumstances.
The Blind Passenger is comprised of a tarot-like deck of fifty-five cards with suits of entropy, sight, immigration, and textiles, and major arcana. Through chance and intent, the artist pulls cards for the viewer into a spread, or map, and a story is decoded through relationships between the images and their placement within the spread.
This work was created as part of a masters thesis, and this particular iteration is rooted in the immigration story of my grandfather, who was first rejected at the border, and later detained for nine months at Ellis Island while trying to gain entry into the United States, ultimately being granted entry with an appropriated passport. He lived the long remainder of his life with a different name, and even travelled back to Poland- his home country (and his original passport lends graphic direction to the back of these cards) to marry and bring his sister to the United States with moments to spare before the Holocaust was in deep process.
His journals, written during multiple attempts of gaining entry into the United States and found nearly sixty years later, provided the bija (seed) for this deck and way of working, which has been a compulsive process throughout my design and art practice. I found this verse through a divination process called bibliomancy, a process often used while seeking guidance in the Holy Bible.
We see a large group of immigrants who are considered blind, we wonder, from where came all these blind people? The blind ones are immigrants…. a group called blind passengers– people who entered the country ill, without a ship-card, without proper permits or without a passport.
Edward Weiss as Avraham Gulkowitz, 1924 in Ellis Island Notebooks
This deck is available in limited edition for collection, and the performance – both in small and large format, is available upon request.