As a college student, my mother was asked to write a genogram. To her knowledge, this pathologized family tree would be the first attempt to record her family history. In the introduction to her findings, she discusses the challenges of African-American genealogical research, friction with my father’s whiteness and the implications for future generations. My studio practice is a reverberation of this work—unraveling the body as an archival document and amplifying the voices of the departed.
I’m interested in (il)legibility and loss.
I see the body as an unreliable archive. An individual can pay to spit in a vial and receive a model of their genealogy and predispositions. The unspoken and unexamined histories our bodies carry are profound; through genetic interpretation, we dampen the many narratives held in the body-archive. While reading my family records, I found that many of these documents have become the writer’s primary remains. Through writing, my family members have maintained voices after death. Selecting material from my research, I draw on systems of optics, light, and scale to shift the intangible to the monumental.
José Muñoz describes melancholia as “a mechanism that helps us (re)construct identity and take our dead with us to various battles that we must wage in their names—and in our names... [it] is a productive space of hybridization that uniquely exists between a necessary militancy and an indispensable mourning.” My practice is melancholic work—nonlinear and alchemical. I reconstruct absence as an active, tangible space; I retrace and reiterate lines to investigate how the past is in conversation with the present.