Converse, Converse

Selected installation views, Converse, Converse  (2016)
video/sound installation: 2-channel color HD video projection,
4-channel audio, 2 floating screens, bench
Projected image size: 14’3”x 8’, TRT 16 minutes

View a video excerpt of Converse, Converse.

Converse, Converse is a two-channel video installation that creates a virtual conversation between family members who have never met.

At age 18, I discovered a family history that had gone unspoken for a generation:  my father’s father, whom I never met, was African-American—my father had been passing as white. He had also decided to raise our family as such, giving us no knowledge of our black ancestry. I have since connected with that side of my family and spoken with my father about his decision. Through a process of recording conversations with my father and separate conversations with the women I learned were my second cousins, I positioned myself as a go-between, filming each side watching the other’s interviews and finally, the reactions to their respective reactions.

The viewer is situated between two parallel projection walls such that both sides of the conversation can never be viewed simultaneously—the viewer must choose a side. However, all the sound, from the conversations to the reactions, can be heard at all times. The act of choosing and the intimacy of listening implicates the viewer in the projected family drama.