The Forum/NGO Forum on Women Beijing
– September 4, 1995
Hands, outlined on a paper, some carrying message, others drawings
and patterns like tattoos, hands from the walls and from twine suspended
above the “Made by Hand” inter-active exhibit at the
Women’s Alternative Media Center.
The hand tracings come from all over the world, with quite a number
obviously sent by fax. Marjorie Kouns, a New York-based artist,
says she had gathered over 500 “hands” before the Forum
opened, and hopes to imprint the hands of all 30,000 or so participants
at the Huairou event.
Why hands? And why time it for the women’s conference?
As Kouns’ hand-out explains: “The hand represents many
things to many people. Throughout the world, women have built their
whole lives around things Made by Hand. As we enter the information
age, we are reminded that this super-highway is accessible primarily
by entering code strings onto a keyboard with our hands, thereby
unlocking the abundant resources of knowledge at our fingertips.
Hands are the conduit for universal life energy, and communication
vehicles for both the hearing and vocally disadvantaged.
“Handwriting as well as calligraphy are both Made by Hand…This
exhibit places no boundaries on its viewers/participants. The hands
represented in Made by Hand will ‘speak ‘ for themselves,”
At present, the hands are plastered over the nook that Kouns has
carved out for herself inside the Shooting School extension, and
flutter above the heads of passer-by. In anticipation of getting
more hands, Kouns has strung twine out the window into the garden
in front. In time, she hopes the hands will stretch all the way
to the Forum entrance.
Those who agree to leave their hand prints can listen to a sound
collage in which voices say the word for “hand” and
other words incorporating “hand” in English, Mandarin,
French, Spanish and Arabic, with background sound of hands snapping,
clipping, clapping while they trace their hands and leave their
It takes very little imagination to envisage the people behind all
those hands, indeed holding hands in solidarity, even if only by
hand-prints on paper. A big hand to Kouns, then, for her singular
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