(Newsletter update 04/25/2018)
Last year I came back home after a long weekend to find an envelope from a NC Correctional Institution in my mailbox. It was from Mr Marcus D. Hunter, a life without parole inmate who murdered taxi driver Abdoelhafiz Hassan Hamed Dowlieb in 2004. Marcus, who had an extremely hard life attached his application for ECN Forgiver's License (pg 14) and asked to become an Empowering Clerk and issue Playful Paperwork documents to his friends. We became pen pals and I helped Mr Hunter develop and have a small income from his portrait drawing (you can send him your photos and he'll mail you back a portrait for a donation). Marcus have shared with me his traumatic life story, the abusive conditions in which he and millions of others are kept behind bars and I have shared with him about my life. I find Marcus to be a sharp, talented and self aware writer and I hope he'll reach many readers in the future. I've sent him a lot of paperwork which he's been issuing to his fellow inmates with great efficiency. Considering my own family story, this new friendship is extremely bizarre, and I'm excited to see where it'll lead.
A few weeks ago I got another letter from another inmate in the same prison who requested to learn more about the Empowering Clerks Network (ECN). When I looked his information up I found that he is serving a 206 years sentence for 'crimes against nature' which included raping a 13 year old. It seems like it was a lot of effort for him to write the few sentences in his letter. I feel a disgust thinking about it and I didn't want to take a photo of it and share it online, as if his actions or the unmet needs behind them don't deserve the light of day. In contrast, when I first found an original Hitler stamp I was somewhat excited to lick it in order to create various comics with him and Stalin - it's much easier for me to find compassion in my heart towards a murderer or even a mass murderer than towards a pedophile sex offender. Placing Hitler on Freud's couch was somewhat natural and easy for me to do, but thinking about helping Joseph deal with his childhood and the feelings he must have seems unreasonable and maybe even impossible. Joseph didn't ask for any specific document yet but just wanted a general information about the ECN. I've sent him a copy of Regulations are Flexible, but what should I do if he decides to apply for a Forgiver's License, Compassion Card, Apology Declaration or other documents? Shall the ECN deny services from sex offenders, or revoke documents of recipients who were found guilty of such crimes? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and I will keep you updated about this bureaucratic process!
I plan on attending a gun show as an ECN Representative. More details soon.
“Ori was an excellent guest speaker in the Art and Social Practice Program at Portland State University. He helped us re-evaluate our notions of compassion and gave us new tools to interact with communities that have different values then us”
Adam Carlin, Director, Greensboro Project Space
See my artist talk and gallery tour from my recent show, the White Men Registry at the Matteawan Gallery at the home page.
"Alon's White Men Registry helped me to develop more compassion and empathy towards white men, which doesn't come naturally to me"
52 years old Latino male, NY
"Yes, we need the White Men Registry because if I'm not going to laugh at sh*t like that I'm going to die"
Voter, White Men Registry referendum
Contact to have a Playful Paperwork / Hidden Fortune Wheel / College Rejection Letter Writing event for high school seniors at your community.
My photos on Google Maps have reached about 500,000 views. The Eric Garner Memorial Bench was uploaded to many different parks and ski resorts and reached some 50,000 views. Feel free to download images of my street art and upload them to random or not random locations around the world (it doesn't have to be where the photo was actually taken)
Coming soon! A letter to Trader Joe's requesting them to increase their prices in order to help me with my complicated relationship with money.
Recently I made a few attempts to write funny things. To my surprise, it seemed to work. I’m not a funny person, or at least when I tell a joke about 43% of the times it’s too long and I forget the end. Most kids do find me funny though, especially the illiterate ones.
I’m a religious person, in a sense that I find humor to be holy. I find humor as one of the most magical things about life. Like birth, death, love and music its meaning and secret can’t really be understood. It is one of the only things that can unite people from different cultures in a positive simple way. It gives hope to life that is too often full of suffering. I believe people like Chaplin, Stewart and Baron Cohen, or at least their characters are one interpretation of faith according to this religion.
So the fact that a rant about baby stuff we want to get rid of or a facebook comment made someone laugh makes me very happy. Much happier than if I’d make someone cry with my words. Ideally, If I may wish for a writing skill, I’d like to be able to get both reactions at the same time with one piece of writing. And that’s probably a little too serious thing about humor what I just wrote.
In first grade I got punished for writing ‘they fucked’ in a story in my little yellow memo pad. I was trying to describe something I saw on TV, got sent to the principal office but was so scared I hid in the bathroom instead. Eventually a shrink stated that I was bored and should attend second grade.
I find the artistic form of writing creative snail mail letters on old typewriters the most efficient, fun and effective way to politely tell my first grade teacher ‘fuck you!’. Whatever shame or other issues she had around sex, she didn’t manage to stop me from enjoying to write like a little boy who just learned that craft, though after that experience it took me twelve years to explore creative writing again.
I enjoy writing letters. Especially in the past few years, as the Internet is developing so rapidly, I’m constantly exploring this ancient way of communication. I see text as material, like a toddler sees clay and letters and envelopes are one of my main playgrounds.