This digital artwork by Amira Hanafi was commissioned by the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, as part of the Navigating Risk, Managing Security, and Receiving Support research project.
It was made in response to research conducted in five countries (Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico), where researchers spoke with human rights defenders around issues of security, wellbeing, and perceptions of ‘human rights defenders’ in their countries.
Reading through these transcribed and anonymized interviews, I was struck by the range and depth of emotions expressed. The speakers’ experiences resonated with me in their resemblance to the emotions I feel as a practicing artist in Egypt. This website translates my reading of these interviews into visual patterns, through a system of classifying sentences by emotions expressed and evoked.
The title of this work (we are fragmented) is taken from the words of one of the human rights defenders who participated in the research.
After reading through the interviews that were shared with me, I created a classification system to coincide with the range of emotions I read in the text. I based my classification system on a few popular classification systems. It contains a set of 6 parent emotions, each with 6 subcategories, for a total of 36 classifications.
Reading the interviews again, I recorded my emotional experience by classifying sentences to which I had an emotional reaction, or in which the speaker explicitly expressed an emotion. It was a highly subjective exercise. Ultimately, this website offers personal maps of my reading of the research material, processed through language and emotion.
Alongside my visual interpretation of the research, you can directly access the source material for each classification on this site. Click on any colored circle, and you will see the direct quote from the individual defender on which that classification is based. I hope for this work to give an alternate way of reading through the research shared with me by Juliana Mensah and Alice Nah.
Amira Hanafi is a writer, artist, and cultural worker based in Cairo, Egypt. She documents particular histories in print and digital, often working with language as a material. She is the author of the books Forgery and Minced English. Her recent project, A Dictionary of the Revolution, won the 2017 Artraker Award for Changing the Narrative. Her work has most recently been shown at Spazju Kreattiv in Valetta, Malta; The Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture in Portugal; The Poetry Center of Chicago at the Read/Write Library; and, in Tongue Tide, a major exhibition at Flux Factory in Queens, New York.