The Family Portraits. Chapter 2. Testimony A-4

Backyard, Montreal, QC, Canada 2016 (edited 2019)

The Family Portraits, Chapter 2. Testimony A-4 2019My backyard, Montreal, QCHD video, audio, single-channel, 08:34 (excerpt)Camera, performative action: Livia Daza-ParisEditor: Alba Daza
This durational and partially public performance of open-ended processes had no predetermined completion time and no specified audience. On the backyard fence of my Montreal home, I placed a life-sized portrait image of my father Iván as a child, with his mother (my grandmother Lucía) and his older brother, my uncle Raúl, which was taken in Venezuela (c.1944).
I decided to leave the image facing towards my window, exposed to the changing conditions and natural elements of an early Montreal autumn. In this setting, I would sit next to them as if I were part of the portrait.
Over days of this performative play, as well as noting, photographing and video recording the changes over time, I sensed a poetics of decay and erasure occurring that seemed to claim presence in absence: when their image-portrait was ‘here’. It paradoxically implied a deep sense of their absence.
This process enhanced the potency of the image, signifying meaning for me beyond the materiality of the print. A certain liveliness within this portrait became evident by this process of decay. The artistic experiment opposes such disregard towards the disappeared and to the forced erasure of grieving inflicted on the family that remains.
This artwork is part of my article Unexpected Witnesses: an artistic practice from a plurality of ways of knowing surrounding political disappearance, 2020. Published in Performance Research Journal, Volume 24, Issue 7, by Taylor & Francis Group on 17/02/2020. Peer-reviewed.
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This artwork has been presented at Optica Gallery, in Montreal, QC, in the group exhibition Un dos tres por mí y mis compañeras, curated by Nuria Carton de Grammont, January-March 2020. Gracias Nuria, for the steady support and dedicated curatorial process.
Heartfelt thanks to my daughter, Alba Daza, who worked on the editing of the piece The Family Portraits, Chapter 2. Testimony A-4 and gave valuable feedback on the litany/poem ‘I almost gave them sweaters’. Special thanks to Stephanie Bolster for our wonderful conversations and her insightful comments.