Action Two: It Is Not Fair

New York, November 17, 2003

This is a project to question the perception of fairness and unfairness.

I ask you to respond with your experience of being in or witnessing an unfair situation,
be it social, political, professional, environmental, domestic, humanistic, cultural or the like.

February 2015

Unfairness is being disconnected from your physical being and your environment. A genderless soul in a gender'ful' world.. A spiritual consciousness in a religious world. A mindful entity in a world beyond comprehension full of extreme beauty and vileness.

Ghada Da

Fall 2008

Good Afternoon,

What is fairness? What a question! Being someone that believes in something (someone) bigger than us all, I approach defining such concepts within the context of my beliefs: why we were created, what our purposes are, and what happens after we die. Because if you believe that something happens after you die, that will make a radical difference on your perception of "fairness". For instance, something 'unjust' that happens to you while you are alive, could be righted after death.

I am a Christian. God calls himself 'The Judge'. Thus when things happen in my life that I am upset with, or I would seek justice for and it is not forthcoming, my aim is to leave it in the hands of my Creator. For justice need not be enacted for me while I am here on earth, because I believe that all things will be handled in perfect justice when I die. So, all that to say when defining abstract terms such as 'fairness', remember that your personal beliefs must be factored into it all, even on a universal scale.

Thanks for the healthy discussion,
Blake in New York City

October 15, 2008  |  11:55 pm

Fairness is in the eye of the recipient.
Is it better to give?

Gerrald Goselink
Brussels, Belgium

October 10, 2008  |  2:59 am

It is not fair that women are not treated as equal to men,
That people are hungry in a world of luxe,
That animals are not treated as equals to humans,
That the poorest regions of the world will be most affected by climate change which is caused by the industrialised world.


July 25, 2007  |  11:35 am

Everything is perfectly fair, often hidden.

Seth Efroim Snyder

May 1, 2007

It is not fair that in Australia recently, five girls were charged (with much public outrage) over graffiti writing on a war memorial the day before ANZAC day, yet there is so little public outcry about the many women who are actually sexually abused every day in Australia. Where is the balance of anger in our lives?

Helen Kelly
Castlemaine, Australia

Tues, April 3, 2007  |  7:33 pm

Dear Kimsooja,

My experience of unfair treatment occurred as a visitor to a foreign nation overseas. My spouse was employed w/a government agency, and had a 4-year temporary resident visa allowing him to take this job for that time-period. This was in (Sydney) Australia.

Coming from Canada, where we'd been "cohabiting" for the necessary length of time to be considered "common law spouses," the immigration laws nontheless did not give any recognition to our relationship, whatsoever. This is despite both countries having similar rules for citizens in same sex relationships, being automatically "common law" married couples (for tax purposes, etc.).

Had I been a woman, or he a woman and me (still) a man, I'd have been free to work at any job I could find for the full 4 years of my spouse's temporary residence - even though he himself couldn't change jobs without first gaining government approval. Alternatively, had my partner been earning a six-figure income, exceptions would have been made - as they had been for others in that income bracket earlier.

For me, however, I was treated simply as a tourist. In actuality, I became involved in the sex trade to help support our household economically. As it so happened, the economic and other stresses lead to my husband giving up his very prized position in that country, and returning to live on a disability pension here in Canada, to be with me.

The positive outcome (or one) is that we are now legally married, as the laws in our home land have since adapted gay marriage.

Respectfully, and for the benefit and liberation of all beings,

Brian E. Mackenzie
Elphinstone, British Columbia (Canada)

Fair or not fair: it all depends on your value system.

Tues, February 21, 2006

When two groups are in conflict, each believes to be the good guys while the others are the good guys. Americans believe that the islam terrorists are evil and the the fundamentalists in the Middle East believe that the Americans are evil.

Both feel it's unfair to be attacked by the other group.

Can we stop judging and see from a neutral point of view?

Can art be a reflection of this "silent witness" of passing ideas?

Dr. Jan Kersschot, Belgium

April 14, 2006

Dear Ms Kim,

This's Holly Law. I'm just an exchange student in Seoul now. As I'm now working on a paper about your art works, I went to your website and discovered that you are now doing this project. I'm pretty interested in it. And hope my participation of it won't bother you.

In term of unfairness I've experienced, it's people here in Korea take for granted that Asianlooking people are all korean. i don't mean to be having bias. but somehow it really depressed me. i have been here for a month and as i can't speak korean, my life is tougher than i can imagine. i guess here i want to say is that, language (dialect, for a more precise definition) itself indicates a kind of unfairness. it differentiates people and create more unfairness.

Anyways, I think your project is very meaningful, for us to regard for the situation we are living in nowadays. Thanks for doing that.

Best wishes,


Sun, July 31, 2005  |  9:37 pm

i like how you write. soothing. i don't like art criticism. sometimes when i am feeling particularly weak, i form an opinion, and share it. like now. i am feeling a bit, righteous. "all life is fair." it may not feel good, but it is fair.

Jennifer McLaughlin

Wed, August 10, 2005  |  10:00 pm

I have encountered so many unfair situations professionally in the arts. It truly bothers me. It can be an endless list but I will only spill out the ones I remember the most.

I submitted a project that consisted of 7 different components to a co-called artist/curator. He then commissioned each and all of my idea to 7 individuals who might help him advance his career. When I saw the show, I was furious but there was nothing I could do because no one would hear me.

I wrote an article about Havana Biennial, 2003. One of the curators asked me to submit the draft to him so that he could present it at a conference in Berlin. In fact, he passed along my essay to another writer who later modified my essay and published it at the same time in another magazine in the same city. Once again, I was screwed.

I witnessed many talented artists whose careers got halted by devious gallery staff and people in the know. The tactic is to judge artists by their characters but not by their work. It's rather bleak at times, I'll say.

Well, that's it for now. There are worse situations to worry about such as, natural disasters, fear of terrorist attacks and health. Thanks for the opportunity. Bravo!!! It's a great project.

Trying to be a sane person,

Not One Dime Day

Thurs, January 20, 2005

(Revised version 4.0)

Since many religious leaders won't speak out against the war in Iraq, and since most political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Thursday, January 20th, has been designated across America as NotOneDimeDay. On NotOneDimeDay, all of us who oppose what's happening in our name in Iraq will speak up with a 24-hour coast-to-coast boycott of all forms of consumer spending. Join us! On January 20th, don't spend any money. Not One Dime for gasoline. Not One Dime for necessities nor impulse buying. Not One Dime for anything for 24 hours. On January 20th, please avoid all big box Superstores like Walmart. Please don't shop the Mall or go to local convenience stores. Don't buy fast food. Carry your lunch to work. Find a place to picnic with your Blue co-workers. For 24 hours, do everything you can to help slow our great consumer economy to a crawl. Spend the day before or after, just not that Thursday. Read a book, take a walk, visit a museum. Enjoy the day! Revel knowing that you're turning your back on GwB's Inauguration Day while opposing the Iraq War as well. The goal is simple. Remind politicians in power that the Iraq War is immoral and illegal; that those responsible for starting this war are the one's responsible for stopping it. NotOneDimeDay is ALL about supporting our brave young men and women in uniform. Politicians put our troops in harm's way. Now over 1,300 valiant Americans and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died. They owe our soldiers a plan — a way to come home. There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On January 20 you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, spend nothing — Not One Dime — to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their higher moral responsibility to end the War in Iraq.

[Historical note: Ironically the Dime was chosen for this first national resistance action against Gwb since the 2004 election. The face on our Dime — under the word "Liberty" — is FDR. GwB has set as his goal to eradicate all remnants of what FDR accomplished, including Social Security. Within Red America there's a movement to replace FDR on our Dime with Reagan. FDR honorably guided us through WWII, our last 'holy' war. GwB's NeoCons plunged us into the most corrupt war our nation has ever known, predicated on lies. On Thursday, take a look at the Dime you choose NOT to spend, and thank FDR for the life you have.]

Please share this with as many people as possible.

From: Emily Jacir

Date: Sat, December 11, 2004  |  10:46:38 -0500

Dear all,

I was slated to have a one person show at the Ulrich Museum in Wichita, Kansas in January 26th. The piece was Where We Come From which was included by Dan Cameron on the 8th Istanbul Biennale "Poetic Justice", and a small excerpt of it was also included in this years Whitney Bienniel.

This show has been planned for over a year, much to my horror two days ago I was told that the The Jewish Federation of Kansas has put pressure on the University and the Museum so that they have been granted permission to place brochures and a sign in the gallery expressing their views concerning the politics of the Middle East. Actually, the University and Museum have no idea what text is contained in the brochures and what the posters are but have given them permission nonetheless.

This is a complete infringement on my right to free speech, not to mention an insult to me as an artist. It is intolerable that I have to go through this just because of my background. I am sure no other artist would accept to work under such conditions. They are placing a huge unnecessary burden on my exhibit with the presence of the brochures which are intended to silence or censor my work. I am shocked that they would place such conditions in a the space of a museum. On the one hand they are allowing me to speak but on another they are trying to control my work by placing brochures, thereby contextualizing and framing my work in ways I have no control over. Not only is this an infringement to free speech but it also disturbs the integrity of my work.

This also sets a bad precedent for them - the next time the University has a show that some group wants to object to they will have to put that group's sign up in the gallery.

I feel violated as an artist by their decision to put a sign in the exhibition with my pictures. This modifies my installation and the work is no longer what it was intended to be. I think people should be able to see my work on its own terms and be able to form their own opinion. I am not against having a conversation, or organizing panels where a variety of views can be expressed if necessary.

If this group is allowed to do this then perhaps other groups should also demand that their own signs and brochures be placed in the gallery as well. How could they be refused? The Museum has now opened up my exhibition space as space for comments from one political group so why deny others?

I am very upset and people are telling me I should cancel the exhibition. I am not sure what to do....I don't want to cancel because it is not fair that the people in Wichita are unable to see my work because of this fiasco but on the other hand these terms are unacceptable....

Please help me. Does anyone have contacts with the ACLU or ideas?

The Director of the Museum is David Butler.

Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art
Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, Kansas 67260.
Contact: Dr. David Butler, Director. Telephone: 316-978-3664, fax: 316-978-3898.
Kevin Mullins is the Curator who invited me to Wichita.
Email: 316 978-5851

"Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased." —Italo Calvino

What is unfair? Comment to Mihael Milunovic:

From: Gerd Lutterjohann, Germany

August 8, 2004

What Mihael describes is typical for behavior of people against one another: prejudice.

We in "Old Europe" like to see American people as superficial with lack of culture. In our days some see "them" as christian fundamentalists without christian love for one`s fellow men in it's global sense, as nationalists etc...

But if we look at concrete persons we see many Americans with high cultural, intellectual and ethic level, which could be a model for all of us. And if we watch people of our own nations - for me the german nation - we have to acknowledge, that superficiality and lack of culture is widespread as everywhere.

But on the other hand I would like to complain about stereotypes about german people in many countries like Netherland, United Kingdom, USA and many many other. They still see the German as "Nazi" etc. Of course I acknowledge, that there are very good reasons for this stereotypes in our history. And I feel responsilble for the inconceivable evil and crime which came from our nation.

Born in 1949 I felt guilty in the first 30-40 years of my life for what has been done by Germen in the 20th century. I had been ashamed to be a German.

Only since some years I step by step lost this attitude. Now I am convinced that a person which is born in Germany is not by birth worse or better than a person which is born in USA, U.K., Netherland, France, Israel, Japan, China, Poland, Russia, Burundi, Ruanda, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia etc...

In Germany some years ago we had a discussion about the slogan "to be proud to be German".

For me this slogan is as stupid as to say "I am ashmed to be German". In other nation it is natural to say "I am proud to be an American" etc. It does not touch me if they do so, if it is not against other people and if they feel responsible not only for their good but also their bad history, which can not be denied by most people or better by the whole mankind.

I think it is fair to be judged as the concrete person which I am. This is the right of Mihael Milunovic and every other person and people in the world. On the other hand we can expect from everybody to feel responsible for what he or his nation or parts of his nation have done.

From: Mihael Milunovic

Date: Sun, March 28, 2004  |  6:58 am

The utmost unfairness so far to experrience was to me to bear the red yugoslav passport for last decade of the past century. On crossing of any border I was observed through this paper and not objectively of who I am. The passport somehow carried along the part of the yugoslav horror and part of the unjust responsability for it; Sometimes I could almost feel this invisible hand of tyrant (milosevic) holding my sholder, while showing my passeport...a strange thing of having this passeport of the country that ceased to exist, with the criminal as a president, dipped in horrors of all kinds, and still your only legal paper for travelling...

From: Heidi Monsma

I don't believe in fairness. Life is not a game with rules that can be asked for. Is it fair when the man I love and cared for even in times of deep depression chooses an 15 year old younger woman to stay with him? Is it fair when people in Madrid had to die because the opponent party to their goverment is against the political intentions of George W. Bush? Life is paradox and fairness is for games and examinations with rules that can be controlled. There is always good and bad close near by. Even when my beloved pet leaves me as it did today.


Can the Rights of People Simply Disappear by Presidential Order?

From: Barry Schwabsky

What does it mean when the President of the United States can on his own designate a citizen in the U.S. as an "enemy combatant," and order the military to hold that person incommunicado, indefinitely, and without charges? The U.S. Supreme Court is now deciding whether the courts even have the right to question the President's action.

What does it mean when the U.S. military internationally can literally snatch people off the street, designate them as 'enemy combatants', and assert that they are beyond the reach of either U.S. or international law? Many are transported to a facility under total U.S. control and funded by Congressional appropriations, where they are held incommunicado, indefinitely, without charges and some are threatened with trials before a military commission that falls short of basic standards of justice.

If the Supreme Court upholds these actions, it will condone the President’s claim of virtually unlimited “wartime powers” without a formal declaration of war by the Congress, and with no or extremely limited oversight by the courts or the Congress.On April 20 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the President’s alleged right to create a “law free zone” at the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba. And on April 28, the Court will hear oral arguments on the President’s asserted right to designate citizens as “enemy combatants,” hold them at the U.S. Navy base in Charleston, SC, and deny them the ability to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

We believe that the President cannot be allowed to create a “legal Black Hole” into which people are dropped with no recourse to the courts or to international law. Among us we hold many varied views on how and why this situation has arisen and what is ultimately needed to ensure justice. But we all agree that this dangerous new presidentially-designated category of “enemy combatants” who have no legal rights is unjust, illegal, and immoral, and cannot be allowed to stand.

The silence over this perilous issue must be broken, and public opposition must be manifested. Join us in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 20 and April 28 to declare a resounding NO!  Legally permitted, non-violent demonstrations will occur on both days from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm with a program of speakers beginning at 11:am.

Our future and the future of hundreds of anonymous detainees now hang in the balance. This is a watershed event in history. What is at stake is just how much the President will be allowed to get away with. Your silence will be taken as assent.

For more information, click here.