Shared Ancestry/Unidentified subjects, 2018 - present.
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.
The documentation of the performance creates a sub-series of images and collages entitled Unidentified Subjects - 42x62 prints that display the beams of light, and the radiant possibility of Shared Ancestry. Through the union, difference, separation, and overlap, the photographs of the performance render an affect beyond self-affirmation, suggesting the removal of “me” and the establishment of “we.”
As part of the work, each semi-erased portrait is enlarged in 10x10 fine prints and attached to a spiral structure implying movement of expansion, radiation, and communion. This structure provided a transition between the performance and the documentation of the performance.