21st Feb 2019
Hello Conch! Thank you for the invitation and the lovely tea!
I grapple with the lesser-knowns: death and its aftermath, trauma, overlooked histories, and unexplored archives. I navigate the distance of history and attempt to make palpable disregarded accounts that have previously been shrouded in silence. I create multi-disciplinary, time-based projects that ask the questions: When does a life become grievable? Does history leave a trace?
In a county-run graveyard in Texas more than 300 unidentified migrants bodies/remains were buried. They died while fleeing their native countries and making the impossible journey to the U.S, in the hopes of something better. Once found, the county buried these individuals in mass graves. In 2013, forensic Anthropologist Dr. Lori Baker started to exhume the remains and use DNA testing to identify the deceased, hopeful to return the remains to the families and offer a sense of closure, echoing the heroine Antigone, defying the state to honourably bury her brother.
The role of the Greek chorus in ancient Greek tragedies was to transform the passion of the characters into a distilled focus, a collective character. Working with 15 actors/ performers/ vocalists in a bilingual narrative, the chorus will seek to recognise the lives of those laid to rest as unknowns by addressing the silence of their burial and our complicity and grief in the process.
I learned about Sacred Heart Cemetery from a news article a couple of years ago and have been slowly researching about the site, the issue of migrant deaths on the border, and the role tragedy can play in a contemporary setting. The project will be performed by 15 actors/ vocalists making up the chorus in a park here in Queens (NYC) this September.
“To see political events tragically is always to accept our complicity in the disaster unfolding” – Simon Critchley
In my work I play the messenger between the viewer and the archive. I am consumed with the preservation of private memories. Public memories are made up of formal accounts and exist in documents whereas private memories are carried in the mind and on the tongue of the individuals who experienced them. Public memories make up history and are immortalised without tears. Private memories carry eccentricities and speak of the loss, joy and struggle experienced. Whether I am building archives or investigating them my work involves the collection of personal memories.
“The live can never be contained in the archive, the archive endures beyond the limits of the live” – Diana Taylor
I am interested in finding a space (or creating one) in between these two forms (the archive and the repertoire) where the collecting of memories can exist in a multitude of mediums, but still be of the body – allowing affect.
In July of 1970, the U.S military launched an Athena test missile from a base in Green River, UT, to test re-entry speeds and impact for ICBMs. The missile lost control, went off course about 400 miles, and crashed in a desert in Northern Mexico. It was carrying two containers of Cobalt-57, a radioactive element. In March, 2016, I travelled to the site of the crash to learn about the memories that lingered.
Artist: John Akomfrah!!! His use of archives is immeasurable AND his eye for editing/ pacing/ composition is remarkable.
I am expecting a baby in April so there is a lot to be excited and concerned about. On a global scale I am most worried about climate change... in which I feel both complicit and helpless.
History and silence are intrinsically linked. Where one narrative prevails, another is often overlooked. I am drawn to sites with histories that are lesser known or forgotten. I make connections between the physical sites and the memories and myths they embody. Presenting minimal, yet poetic, projects that tie together the discounted and dominant narratives, I re-present these histories to make the human experience felt.
Since Trump started running for President I experienced an increase in street harassment/ catcalling, to varying degrees. As his offences against women were being reported and sound bites of his rhetoric were being repeated I felt a shift or regression towards a public acceptance of violence against women and increased anxiety. After he won, like many people, I felt numb. I am very much interested in the distance between the personal and the political and how that space can be navigated. Last year I completed a single channel video ‘A Murmuring’ that spoke to that space of anxiety/ trauma experienced by women. Lists of words used when explaining the emotional impacts of trauma, excerpts from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, imagery of waves crashing and hands kneading clay are all juxtaposed in an attempt to portray both visually and aurally, the inner turmoil of trauma.
‘The Waves’ – Virginia Woolf
and constantly reading/ researching texts on: memory
→ Also looking at the work of: Dons Salcedo, Roni Horn, Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Ellie Ga, John Akomfrah, Ragnar Kjartansson, Susan Philipsz.
Combining my interest in language and the use of individual memories to speak to the existence of a collective or shared experience, I created an audio archive – Omniscience and Oblivion. It is rooted in the Greek rivers – Lethe and Mnemosyne. After drinking from Lethe you would experience complete forgetfulness and from Mnemosyne you gained infinite memory. I am constantly thinking about the power of forgetting – we are taught and trained to remember, but perhaps sometimes it is better to forget.
I invited participants to anonymously share, via an online form, one memory they would like to keep forever and one they would like to forever forget. From these written contributions, I recorded voices of different individuals reading these memories. Each moment was mediated: by the choice of the words used to recall the memories, by the grammar and syntax used, by the reader, and finally by the pared down presentation; An empty room with a bench and 4 speakers.
From this process of distancing the listener is invited to navigate the speaking subject by listening to the language and the voice, the written vs. the spoken word. The project presents seemingly everyday memories that point to the existence of a collective memory. In the act of listening the viewer is privy to a juxtaposition of the ‘linguistic function’ and the ‘bodily excess’ (Lawrence Abu Hamden) and left to ponder the connection or disconnection between the voice and memory being recalled
*although I don’t have unlimited funds for this it is a project that felt hard to reach/make happen for a number of years.
hands holding “The farewells take place in silence, but with tears” - Italo Calvino