A group of people sitting on a stage with projections and an audience.

Ryat Yezbick, in collaboration with James Rushford, "And Laid Him On the Green," 2019; performance. Photo: Keelan O'Hehir

Ryat Yezbick

Artist in Residence, 2023

Portrait of Ryat Yezbick

Artist Statement

As a non-binary, Arab-American person raised in a charismatic Catholic church, I felt confused about my simultaneous desire to belong and the distinct feeling that I was not of the community. I learned to perform a position in order to fit in with the group for fear I was being watched by a wrathful god. God was my first encounter with surveillance technologies. In my work, I investigate the impact of surveillance technologies on group identity and morals through public archives and collaborations. Frequently figuring my lived experience into my work, I address a complex set of questions around security, gender, home, family, love, violence, power, and responsibility in the era of digital surveillance and decentralized global conflict. I work in a variety of mediums, notably live performance, experimental documentary, and installation.

While at Headlands

The Innocence of Unknowing is an internet media archive project chronicling the history of news media coverage of mass shootings in the United States and the subsequent rise of surveillance culture. I am gathering media footage of mass shootings, spanning from the 1960s to present day, from YouTube, isolating moments in which people are coming out of buildings with their arms raised. The film will start in the present and reverse back in time to the genesis of our current cultural relationship with mass shootings. 

This body of work will include: a feature-length film, a series of short films, and a performance exploring postures of surrender. This project will examine our cultural relationship to witnessing acts of domestic terrorism to understand how the American public has been held hostage by decades of broadcasted violence. This project asks: what kind of citizen is being fashioned from chronic domestic terrorism?