Xena Ni and Mollie Ruskin are an art, design, and community organizing duo. We create multimedia interactive experiences for the public good. We believe in dignity and democracy at scale. And we believe that public institutions should work with and for the people they serve, so we work with government partners, community organizations, and art collectives to help our local communities become more representative, equitable, and just.
Transaction Denied is a multimedia installation that tells the story of thousands of people seeking help paying for food in our nation’s capitol.
Reflecting on a troubled $50 million computer upgrade to DC’s food assistance program (also known as SNAP) that left thousands without access to their benefits,Transaction Denied invites us to ask our government to do better.
The piece pairs cascades of familiar objects, like receipts and manila folders, with audio of human stories lost amidst systemic failures. The result is an immersive experience that calls into question how much we scrutinize people struggling to put food on their tables, and how little we understand about how our government is failing them.