My father was an FBI agent. He died when I was 10, leaving behind a large, 4-inch, black, three-ring binder in which he saved materials from his FBI cases. I call the contents of this binder The Archive.
The Archive’s materials fall into the following categories: letters from FBI headquarters, newspaper articles describing arrests and trials, mug shot photographs of suspects, and investigation reports. In addition, The Archive now includes documents from my own reinvestigation of several of his cases by requesting for declassified documents, doing site visits, and researching archived materials.
In my artworks I retell and reinterpret parts of The Archive through videos, audio installations, sculptures, and drawings. The materials of The Archive highlight the divergence between public records and private accounts, official narratives and rumors, facts and blurred fictions. The documents provoke questions about judgment, history, empathy, and power. The Archive’s bureaucratic materials never really provide clear depictions of the events they portray; however, in my work I aim to fashion an understanding of the past by reframing, reconstructing, and retracing the story through artworks.
In the gallery the viewer finds two exhibition cases containing two model sailboats and one video of an old Cowboy Western. As the viewer approaches the work they notice that things aren’t what they seem. The cases are constructed of cardboard, no glass protects their contents, one model sailboat is a paper decoy, and the other has been left unfinished. To the right of the cases there is a voice coming from the handset that tells a story about an agent who built a model sailboat during the long hours of a surveillance operation.
The Dying Man, 2011, mixed media with video, model sailboat, print of decoy boat, and cardboard, 119 x 213 x 43 cm, installed at Confluence(s) show.