Leave in Silence- is there quiet in the land?

“Leave in Silence- is there quiet in the land?” was a collaborative public art project by artists Kathleen Bitetti (US) and Lisa Evans (UK). The artists, dressed in all white, left works through out Devonshire (UK) during May 8, 9, 10, & 11, 2010. The project was part of the 2010 London Biennale.

The piece consisted of 30 small works left in public places in Devonshire for members of the general public to come across. By design, those finding the art were first faced with the project’s title or the question is poses. It was not until the person interacted with the art that they discovered the artists’ intent. The title of the work, however, gave a clue to what the project is about.

The first part of the project’s title is from a 1982 song by the English rock band, Depeche Mode. This song, Leave in Silence, depicts a person trying to leave an emotionally violent relationship. The choice of this title underscores that domestic violence can impact anyone- even men can be victims. Domestic violence encompasses much more than intimate partner abuse. It encompasses parent to child abuse, child to parent abuse, sibling to sibling abuse and other intergenerational abuse. It is often a learned behavior that is passed down from generation to generation. Usually domestic violence occurs in the privacy of the home- hidden from view. This is what the second part of the project title refers to- “is there quiet in the land?”.

Each of the 30 works consisted of a large clear plastic bag. Inside this bag there was a large white envelope and a smaller clear plastic bag that held a piece of small white doll house furniture. Attached to the smaller plastic bag via light blue ribbon was a light blue and white tag with the project’s title on it. The white doll furniture refered to childhood and the home. Inside the white envelope was a brief explanation of the project and a pamphlet of anti-domestic violence hotline numbers. Also inside the white envelope was a light blue envelope which in turn contained further information about the two artists. Special thanks to Mark Leahy, Rhys Evans, Simon Bertram, and Dave Harrison.

For more information on the project or to let the artists known you found one of the works: Leave.Return (at) gmail.com

About the Artists:

Lisa Evans is a UK visual artist and writer who, since 2006, has produced projects which address social issues such as violence against women, gender roles and homelessness. Active in social change her practice combines photographic image, written text and spoken word to create books, videos, posters and installations which are focused on raising awareness. One of her largest pieces of work was ‘Faded Memories’ (2008) an installation exploring concepts relating to domestic violence and abuse. During this period the writing she produced was both autobiographical and taken from work with women survivors to convey themes surrounding memory, time and the trauma of painful experiences. Her projects involve the inclusion of organisations and policies concerned with the issue and have an intention to empower people. Lisa is currently studying a master’s degree in Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts (UK). For more information: Lisa Evans

Kathleen Bitetti is a US artist based in Boston, Massachusetts. Since the early 1990s, her art work has involved the creation of conceptually based sociopolitical objects, installations and community based projects. Research, unassuming and often undetectable autobiographical references, historical references, contemporary sociopolitical issues, and sewing are very important to Bitetti and help to comprise the foundation she builds on for all of her artworks. Often her work deconstructs the American dream, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and lullabies that are part of our childhood and adult culture. Her work also often addresses gender roles/gender assignment, the fragility of family dynamics, domestic violence and the underlying threads of violence and danger that underpin American society. Her work is in the permanent collections of the DeCordova Museum and the New Bedford Art Museum. Bitetti is currently an artist in residence in the City of Quincy* for 2005-11, through the City's Historical Society. She was in residence at Gozo Contemporary (Malta) in October 2009. In May 2010 she was a visiting artist at Dartington College of Arts (UK) and she completed several public art projects in the UK in connection with the 2010 London Biennale. For more information on Kathleen: www.KathleenBitetti.com

*Quincy, Massachusetts is where Bitetti grew up and in High School she was a volunteer at the Quincy Historical Society.

About the 2010 London Biennale:

The London Biennale was founded in 1998 by David Medalla. It has evolved into an artist community loosely based around London and the biennale events that take place there. The London Biennale is a do-it-yourself free arts festival. The Biennale organization is not restricted to London. The 2010 dates are May 1st to August 30th.