Shared Ancestry is a three-dimensional piece made of semi-erased portraits transferred onto Iroko wood squares that are serially attached by conductor wire to strings of raffia, composing a vestment activated by a performance. This work has grown from inquiries on the contemporary trend of DNA tests in relation to collective ancestry. What are the collective benefits of individual DNA tests and genealogy seeking in times of fierce differences?
Shared Ancestry doesn’t provide an answer. Rather, it articulates my deeper longing for oneness through a ritual of social healing enunciated by the performance of the vestment. The piece is an elegy to the Western African deity Omolu - whose main characteristic is healing and whose ritual vestment, in Brazil, is made entirely of raffia. The portraits transferred onto the Iroko wood - the symbolic Western African tree of connection between the sacred and the mundane worlds - indicate the elusive quality of portraiture, “modes of self,” and modes of “others.” They are hundreds of individual portraits from multiple regions of the world whose fixed identities had been transferred, semi-erased, and that are completely blurred and unified by the ritual/performance of repetitive swirling.