Anonymous Boston

Photo Courtesy of Joanna Marinova Jones

The last time I saw an exhibition that literally made me tremble was at the Institute of Contemporary Art during the Mark Bradford show (November 19, 2010 – March 13, 2011). This time around, it wasn’t Bradford that almost moved me to tears, but rather an exhibition at Fourth Wall Project on social justice and gun violence in Boston. Words could not even begin to describe the emotions I felt as I read every wall text, looked at every photograph and listened to the desperate pleas of families (a haunting audio piece was part of the show) in Anonymous Boston a multimedia exhibit that focused on life, rather than the devastating effects of gun violence.

Organized by media producer and human rights activist Joanna Marinova Jones, Anonymous Boston directly and indirectly brought to light many issues that have long been ignored by public officials, and people not directly affected by gun violence. Anonymous Boston aimed at empowering those families who have experienced devastating losses—by giving them a voice with which to tear down the derogatory comments left behind by anonymous bloggers on online news articles.

Newspaper clippings with stories on the victims made this exhibition not only interesting, but relevant on so many levels. The headlines are nothing short of sensational, they nurture the anonymous monsters that leave tactless comments that hurt victim’s families.

Fueled by the insensitive, inaccurate and superficial media coverage of violence in Boston, these anonymous bloggers further exacerbate the situation by relentlessly attacking not only grieving families, but an entire race. Their comments, some of which I have quoted above, are difficult to stomach.

It’s much easier to ignore the issue or point fingers and blame the victim’s family, rather than to take a stand to stop gun violence. It is also much easier to say “if it is not happening to me, then it’s not my problem— why should I care about all the violence that is destroying your community?”

Photo Courtesy of Joanna Marinova Jones

What happens in Boston is everyone’s responsibility. I could not help but feel mentally drained and spiritually devastated, but always remaining hopeful—as I was confronted with blatantly racist and ignorant comments left by these bloggers next to a victim’s photograph. It’s easy to hide behind a veil rather than to discuss the real underlying issues as to why these things are happening in our city.

To say that what happens in Roxbury, Dorchester or Mattapan isn’t my problem— is to be part of the problem, as a family member of one of the victims in Anonymous Boston was quoted saying.

Anonymous Boston communicated a powerful message and I sincerely hope that those who experienced it listened. Gun violence is the product of complex cultural issues. We as a culture are obsessed with guns and yet we wonder why there is so much senseless violence in this country. My only regret was not being able to experience this exhibition more than once, as I went on the second to last day before closing. 

All other uncredited images are by Anulfo Baez.


Great moments of learning and inspiration are currently unfolding on Twitter courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Last Friday, the ICA celebrated its 75th anniversary as an institution in Boston and to mark this glorious occasion, the museum has been tweeting interesting historical facts, proving that social media is an excellent tool to educate people with (I was sold on this idea a while back, which is why I love Twitter).

Their first tweet rolled in on September 27th. It was love at first sight for me:

The next day the museum tweeted that Paul Gauguin was the subject of the Institute’s first exhibition, but not without capping off the tweet with a bit of humor courtesy of the eccentric Salvador Dali:

On September 29th, I learned of a “first” in the ICA’s history:

On September 30th, I learned of this bold move:

The ICA made a commitment early on in its existence to celebrate diversity (something that excites me in any museum):

Roughly 15 years before the completion of Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, a seminal work in the history of Modernism in Boston and Cambridge, the ICA presented this exhibition:

Another great moment of learning unfolded as I read this tweet regarding the Chilean artist Roberto Matta, whose mural in Valparaiso knocked my socks off in 2004 while studying abroad:

Bostonians were exposed to minimalism through this exhibition:

And what about Andy Warhol?

The above screenshots are just a few of the many “#ICA75″ tweets highlighting the history of the ICA. Follow the ICA on Twitter @ICAinBoston and you’ll learn something new everyday. They’re only up to 1966, so many more interesting facts to come. Thanks to the ICA for this newly acquired wealth of knowledge!