BEARING WITNESS: FOUR DAYS IN WEST KINGSTON

Hey everybody, this week I visited a friend in the Philly area and we ended up visiting the Penn Museum of Archaeology/Anthropology (my second visit, their first). It was a really beautiful weekend and I’m glad I got the chance to explore the Penn Museum again since the last time I went was my freshman year of school.

The Penn Museum is a really great place to visit (their student price is $10) and there’s a wide variety of artifacts on display for you to consider and look at. My personal favorite has always been the Egyptian exhibit (with the Asian works following as a close second) but this time around I stumbled upon an exhibit I never had the chance to see my freshman year. It’s called “Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston” and is about the Tivoli Incursion. Penn’s website simply explains that ” In May 2010, the “Tivoli Incursion,” a standoff between Jamaican security forces and a local drug trafficker and community leader wanted for extradition by the United States government, resulted in the death of at least 75 civilians in West Kingston on the island of Jamaica”. Through the use of charts, personal interviews with those directly affected/photographs of the interviewees, installations, and a quick 8-minute documentary, the exhibit aims at bringing light to this event (which I had never even heard about), and calling for justice for those affected.

Shown below are some of the charts/statistics this exhibit has posted (the middle one was interactive and you would read the situation posted and lift the board to see what your choice would entail).

Shown here are more images of the depth of the exhibit space. You can see the images of the interviewees and their stories. One woman I read about was hit by shrapnel in the attack and suffered severe burns (I didn’t write down her name even though I should’ve). It really makes you reconsider your own personal situation. I personally don’t have any fear of being caught in gunfire and I know a lot of you reading this blog probably don’t, either. Exhibitions like these really force you to remember that there are social injustices still happening around the world and even if you don’t feel compelled to get out and do something about it, it’s good, I think, to at least be aware of what’s happening.

The exhibit space was small, and it felt really personal. I think the size of the space really makes you feel connected to the victims. The use of the feast table, shown above with the pineapples, and the Jamaican drums, also makes you feel connected to their community. I really encourage you guys to go to the Penn Museum and make it a top priority to see the “Bearing Witness” exhibit as it only runs through April of next year. It’s super important to know what’s going on in communities around the world as we’re all human and it’s important to be kind and take care of one another. Have a great week, all!

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