Family Portraits

(of which there were none) 


Family Portraits Lara, Venezuela
Family Portraits Washington, DC, US 
Family Portraits Montreal, QC, Canada

Considering the paradoxical notion of absence in presence, these works also play with the semiotics of family portraits by intercepting notions of time, portraiture, performance, and politics. Typically, family members assemble in the same place at the same time; I appropriate this activity to create assembled portraits from absence and across time and place. The work explores connections between who has been disappearedby state violence— and the resilience that remains in the ones left behind, alive. These performative interventions are at once political claims and physical poems

The works form a performative archive, that turns towards the value of classic Greek performance associated with participation in civic life (1). The photos printed on large paper are more than images and metaphors; they become in a way, alive (2).

The work considers Judith Butler’s moral question about which lives are worth counting and whose lives are grievable (2)

It does so not from a conceptual conjecture but from what is experienced directly and deep within oneself. Witnessing is expressed by an insistence to remain caring, to resist oblivion while holding on to these images—of the politically disappeared—that somehow endure a life that has an unresolved death.

(1) Denzin, N.K. 2014. Interpretive Autoethnography. Second edition. Los Angeles: SAGE. (2) From a personal conversation with poet Stephanie Bolster.(3) Butler, J. 2009. Frames of war: when is life grievable London ; New York: Verso.
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