‘No house could be more comprehensively stocked with the detritus of the past than the empty house’, Brian Dillon, The Dark Room.
The home is a museum of the past, and a living, changing being all at once. It’s four walls provide the space for a conglomeration of experiences, of rituals built around the politics and ideologies surrounding the family sphere and the experience of growing up: Christmas’s, birthdays, vacations and road trips, all rituals and events that become the objects of documentation. So too, do the subjects of these rituals and events.
What happens when the faces and the members of these personal events are removed? When those who were performing for the camera are gone, what is left? What was there from the start?
In my mother’s case, childhood was a color with different hues; childhood was growing up in a family with parents who could not bear children, who had adopted her and her siblings from foster care or just after birth.
It all began with twenty-eight minutes of super-8 footage that she found 10 years back in her adopted mother’s home after her passing. In the footage, a family dresses up for church, and poses for the camera, a group of children surround a piñata in the backyard, a mother helps her daughter take a whack at it with a baseball bat. From the outside, its a family just like any other; at face value there is no detection of a certain sort of missing element: blood connection.
This piece of work is an attempt to question the underlying roles of the camera in family events and in the experience and memory of growing up. Most importantly, this is a piece of work drawing attention to the search for something missing in an adopted home. The individuals of this family video have been omitted to leave only the framework of the experience, it is as if everyone has left, and only the evidence of their existence is left behind. The camera is searching, weaving its way in and out of frames of empty events, and the faces of a ‘family’ are not found.