Family Portraits (of which there were none)

2012 - 2019

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 connectivities between who has been disappearedby political violence— and the resilience of memory that remains in the ones left behind, alive. These performative interventions are at once claims and physical poems.

As a performative archive, the turns towards the value of classic Greek performance associated with participation in civic life. The photos printed on the large paper are about more than imagery and symbolism; they are, in a way, alive. The work considers Judith Butler’s moral question on which lives are worth counting and whose lives are grievable (1). 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 onto these images—of the politically disappeared—that somehow endure a life that has an unresolved death.

(1) Butler, J. 2009. Frames of war: when is life grievable London ; New York: Verso.

For more information see the following publications: