((@)), or when we die, our portraits speak to our living descendants
This ongoing series’ title is a sketch of a spiral around a singular point, best written as ((@)), or when we die, our portraits speak to our living descendants. Inspired by Amiri Baraka’s discussion of the changing same, it’s a performance, or maybe a ritual practice to bridge and upend time as a means to connect with my current and future ancestors by testing limits of reading and engaging with artifacts. The title alludes to how life is circling around the same ideas and notions our lineages hold, but at a deeper understanding or higher consciousness.
Succinctly put, I've known there's a very short distance between our own experiences and that of a stranger. But the word “stranger” feels wrong, because if I know you're human, we share so many “knowings.” We know what ideas of love, family, and time together should mean and what the reality of what those look like for us. So this was an attempt to close the gap of the “stranger.”
I wanted to explore images made by me and what I assume are images made by my late father. His images are full of strangers, but I imagine he held a connection to them. So this became a very physical exercise in attempting to build a connection of my own. The images are made by taking both of our negatives and printing them in a way that creates a shared visual language where our identities as image makers become more fluid, less discernible, just as the people within the images do. The process was a physical dance, where stretching, folding, and playing were necessary to reach back into time.
Within archives, the “who” and “where” hold importance for generational history and even an understanding of self and what our body holds. I can't go back in time and get any information, but I can rethink the tools of this reality. To quote artist David B Jang, time is emotional. So if my perception of time is guided by emotion, then it is both relative and individualized–and it is also far less rigid or exacting than how we currently measure time.
Making this work meant harnessing my emotions and bodily memories as a way to compress and expand time into something more imperfect and true.
Our personal archives become useless without a guide or a key. But what if I release those spirits held in an image, have a conversation with them, and create something new that requires something more intuitive; a “knowing.” Can we all still read these images, and reach the emotions held in them? What lessons do they hold?