Press > NGO Forum 95, Beijing

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,” she adds.
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 messages.
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 handiwork!

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