My Hands/Wishful Thinking

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Working within the early netart aesthetic of the popup, hypertext, and digital automation of sound, my hands/wishful thinking produces an online memorial to the tragic death of Amadou Diallo, a twenty-two year old immigrant from Guinea who was shot forty-one times based on a case of mistaken identity and police overreaction in 1999. In this piece by Mendi and Keith Obadike, the blinking, repeating hand of Keith Obadike grasps a wallet purchased from the same store on 125th street in Harlem where Diallo worked. Perhaps this is even the same brand of wallet that Diallo held which the NYPD claimed was a gun. Recalling experimental photographs like Glenn Ligon’s Hands (1996), my hands/wishful thinking draws together the hand of the artist, the hand of Diallo, and the hand of the user navigating the web page. Mendi and Keith Obadike begin with the premise that "thoughts are things" and for every shot fired a thought has been written down as an act of poetic resistance. Released in an age before social media, my hands/wishful thinking exemplifies the transformative potential of the Internet at the turn of the millennium. Rather than an expression of trauma, loss, and violence, this deeply moving work of netart activism places hope in the power of collectivity and a future without racist violence. Authors' statement: my hands/wishful thinking is an internet memorial piece for Amadou Diallo. Diallo was killed by new york city policemen on february 5, 1999. the four policemen involved claimed that they thought Diallo's wallet was a gun and fired 41 shots, hitting him 19 times. most of the information we received about Diallo's death was mediated by the internet and filtered through the lens of our browser. we thought it fitting that we mourn and make art in this public/private digital space. keith's wallet, seen in the image, was purchased on 125th street in harlem where Amadou Diallo worked as a vendor. in this piece there is one thought to counteract each bullet fired. the words are wishful thinking in the present tense. these thoughts reject the negative forces directed against us, the survivors, african people in the united states. making this work is an enactment of our will to survive. (Source: ELC 3)

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My hands / wishful thinking
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Magnus Knustad