YEAR-END STUDIO UPDATE | Witnessing the Invisible on a Grand Scale: How 2020 Brought Everything Into Sharp Focus

Gabrielle Senza, video still from work in progress.

Hello, Dear One ~

I’ve missed you.
I’ve worried about you.
And have thought about you often.

What has this year been like for you?
What changes have occurred in your life?
What challenges, silver linings, or discoveries have you encountered?
What losses have you endured?

Most of all, I want to know, are you well?
Are you happy? Are you safe?

Last January, I was beginning my thesis on the phenomenon of social and physical invisibility, when a deadly invisible virus began circling the globe. COVID-19 not only halted life as we knew it, the worldwide pause also revealed the invisible pandemic of racism to many who had not yet noticed – or refused to acknowledge it.

Suddenly (and finally) everybody was willing to talk about the impacts of implicit systems of oppression, dangers of being seen and unseen, deaths caused by unstoppable killers with state issued weapons, and a plethora of other invisibility-related topics.

Part of my thesis work was tallying the hundreds of responses offered by participants in the Invisibility Labs I conducted in the US, Germany, Turkey, England, Ireland, Portugal and Mexico over the past several years.  There was so much overlap across multiple languages and cultures, that I thought I’d share these universalities with you as we close out the year.

A collection of images of people participating in Invisibility Lab creative research experiments. Includes images of people writing, tracing hands, apothecary bottles, talking and thinking.
Selected images of Invisibility Lab engagements. More information on the project here.

The majority of folks who filled out the Archive of Invisible Things survey said they (like me) have felt invisible at some point in their lives (usually on public transportation and among strangers, but sometimes also with family and colleagues). I found it reassuring to know that I was not alone in this experience. In addition, most respondents said they have also wished to be invisible (often in social encounters, a classroom, or in dangerous situations).

Many shared their concerns about racism, oppression, global capitalism, greed, pollution, tyranny, body and gender politics, LGBTQ+ rights, housing, and the climate crisis. Pandemics were not on anyone’s mind at that time.

Nevertheless, it was uplifting to see how many participants expressed beautiful, generous wishes for the world such as Peace, Love, Harmony, Unity and a Healthy Planet for all beings.

Nothing can take away the pain and loss experienced by millions of people around the globe this year. We all know someone who has suffered or died. As we take part in building a new path forward, doing all that we can to heal our personal and collective trauma, I hope you’ll remember to draw upon the invisible things that sustain us ~ like faith, hope, meditation, laughter, communication, care, generosity, love, gratitude – even WiFi and the worldwide web.

As you know, making invisible aspects of life visible through artistic expression and creative engagements with the public has been my passion for over three decades. I am fueled by learning, sharing and exchanging stories, ideas & experiences because the healing and transformation that occurs as we tell our stories is profound.

My aim is to bring ever more light, love and compassion into the world through my work as an artist, mother, activist, community leader, accomplice and guide. My creative research on the seen and unseen will continue as I weave together more of the stories, words, and recordings that have been contributed ~ as well as those that I will continue to collect.

I have loads to share in the weeks and months ahead. Performances, installations, videos, exhibitions, workshops and experiences are all in the works. Expect to hear more from me!

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out if there’s anything you would like to see or wish to share. I’d love to hear from you. One of my primary intentions for 2021 is to remain connected. To you, to justice, to the issues that matter, to art and creativity.

Incarcerated on Sunday, performance stills. Recent posts added to my studio Instagram page.
Curated by my amazing studio assistant, Sofié Ruderman. Photo credit: Raul Barcelona

May your new year be filled with pleasure, love, health and loads of joy.
With deep deep gratitude and warmth,


Thursday, Dec. 31
So long, 2020!

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