Mace of Disruption: A Perspective on American Safety is a show that aims to challenge the media-fed fear plaguing the American citizenry. The exhibit displays a statement piece of spiked baseball bats accompanied by photographs from the artist’s travels. Matthew Bajda is a Bay Area artist whose work acts like a participant in the world around him. His photographs document small moments. His statement piece, Spiked Baseball Bats, are six recreations of forty-four bats originally chained to poles and placed around San Francisco to confront the viewer and challenge the viewer’s expectations. What at first may be seen as a threatening weapon has its power taken away by its chain.
We have learned to spend our days enshrouded in a miasma of fear which directs our every choice. We choose our nation’s leaders through our fear of terrorism. We choose our food through our fear of disease. We choose our jobs through our fear of poverty. We choose our cars and clothes through our fear of being judged different. We choose our partners through our fear of loneliness.
Politicians, lobbyists, advertisers, and Hollywood all play on our fears and turn them to their own uses.
It is difficult to recognize, let alone confront, one’s own fears. Rational discussion is a rarity when it comes to topics of which we are fearful: ironically we are often afraid to present our true beliefs lest we offend by being outliers. Academic essays on the nature of fear are also ineffective at reaching the average American. What then?
Art offers a solution. Street art in particular is well-suited, with its universal ease of access and its ready connection to some of our society’s fears.
When people see this piece, the artist hopes it provokes them to question their media-fed fear. He wants them to look around and wonder how safe they feel in their own community and whether this fear is truly warranted.