I walk into the gallery hall.
I lose my breath.
The air escapes from those around me, too. Silence is only broken by the whisper of horror.
I wait until the group disperses. I am alone, with the exception of a security guard whose eyes follow me around the circle.
He’s doing his job, but I wonder if he’s watching my reaction to Duck, Duck, Noose, the work of artist Gary Simmons. He likely hears the air rush out of countless visitors every day, as they are struck by the power of the installation.
Simmons surely intends to evoke the kind of emotions that explode in me. He invites the viewer to walk inside the circle and experience the threat of the noose.
I don’t stand inside the circle. I’ve never stood inside the circle. My position and privilege nearly insure I will never stand inside the circle.
Standing inside the circle. Is that what it feels like to a protester surrounded by police in riot gear?
Standing inside the circle. Is that what it feels like to a gay man who asks for directions in a small town?
Standing inside the circle. Is that what it feels like to a woman who dares to voice her opinion in the face of institutionalized patriarchy?
I stand outside the circle. My brain cannot fathom standing inside the circle, my heart broken at the thought.
Am I part of the circle, complicit through the combination of privilege and apathy?