Installation of "artifacts" found in the Back Bay Fens. Each unfired terra-cotta idol holds within it a message leading the viewer to a journal detailing the life of a looter who happened upon them just as the viewer has now. In order to discover this message, the viewer must assume the role of the looter and steal the idol from its site, and then in classic looter fashion be careless enough to break it open in order to discover the message within.
A looter stumbles upon a group of six artifacts that lead him on a discovery spanning the realm of reality and the imagination. The lines between truth and lies are blurred as we follow a time in the life of a morally ambiguous character and all those he encounters. Through his eyes we learn about a lost civilization while delving deep into the human psyche and exploring the human condition.
In my current body of work I am exploring the relationship between oral storytelling and belief systems through the creation of an alternate mythology. The driving force behind this is the urge to debunk the traditional moral systems imposed by organized religion, government, schools, family and other institutions. I am exploring the process and ramifications of racialized othering in Western culture. By rooting my research in the colonization of the New World, I locate the echoes of racial oppression and subjugation in the contemporary Western social climate.
Mythology seems to work well in imparting ethics and principles through specific event that can later be applied to various social layers. By studying and working off of recurring motifs and patterns told in the visual language of diverse mythologies, I create my own mythological tales. These new stories push forward my subjective morals and ideas of the world because in this case I am acting as the authoritative institution. By playing the role of the creator and discoverer, I am able to blend the timelines of the contemporary with the past and future.
I am reading many eyewitness accounts written by European colonizers from Mexico and South America. In particular, Cortes and Columbus both employ similar tactics of dehumanizing indigenous people in order to make the European citizens believe that they could easily be conquered. Additionally, they attempt to strip them of their identities so as not to be as psychologically burdened when subjugating them with brutality. These men become writers and authority figures of not only the history but also of the mythologies around how the conquest occurred. Using these texts as research material helps me form the persona of my book’s narrator. What kind of character flaws could he have? Which stereotypes of an explorer or discoverer would he fit and which could he break?
I am writing a book, which details an isolated encounter between a human and a neo-mythological creature. The book essentially narrates an eyewitness account of contemporary conquest of an indigenous peoples, but there are many different factors at play here. The possibility of an unreliable narrator might lead the reader to question the accuracy and authenticity of the events detailed in the account. A disconnect with reality brings the viewer into an imagined or parallel realm and sets them up for a creative-thinking experience. The events described are meant to immerse the reader in a clearly fictitious world to the point of conditioned subscription. Furthermore, it is meant to be unclear whether this encounter is a pure invention of the narrator or if it is happening in a fictitious world.
Along with a book, I am working on a creation myth wall scroll and interactive audio piece. I interpret the big bang as a spider laying eggs, a stand in for the planets, and eventually exploding to form the sun and thrusting everything into orbit around her.The scroll consists of pulp-painted and hand printed images on hand made paper, connected through a crochet pattern. It includes Arduino-powered motion censored audio files, which translate text written on the scroll from a fictitious language into English.
In tandem, I am working on two 16mm films. One documents the invented ritual of putting on the skin of one’s deceased father, an act symbolizing maturity and the acceptance of one’s role in a larger community. The other explores a leader’s uncertainty about going to war. Traditional stories of war and conflict become skewed to emphasize the grey area between right and wrong, good and bad. I am also finalizing a live performance in which the audience engages with an originally constructed musical instrument based on the mbira. It is meant to act as a method of communication both between the participants, as it can be played by three people, and in the context of the mythological narrative acting as the voice of ancestors.
These pieces all carry a common thread of storytelling and a unifying mythic tale that compels the viewer’s perception of time to shift and blur. The book feels like a contemporary phenomenon, even futuristic at times where as the artifacts detailed in the book, and handmade paper scroll feel more closely related to the past – a pre-mechanized age. The films, as well as elements of printmaking revealed in the scroll speak to a level of civilization or archeological discovery and push into the less distant past/present. Finally the audio files are activated and the scroll bares its innate ability to transmit knowledge and information to the viewer through Arduino devices hidden inside – a mixture of mysticism and futurism.
This collision and confusion of time brings the viewer to not only question the nature of the work but also the intent. Confronted with the persona of the book’s narrator as well as the multiple indigenous viewpoints presented through the films, performance and creation scroll, the work takes on the progression and complications of racialized othering in Western culture and its continued presence in contemporary Western society. Various traditional tales are changed from sweet to gruesome in order to explore these often-overlooked spaces not only in history, but also in contemporary life and the future.