I was invited to be artist-in-residence at Recology, San Francisco’s city waste and recycling management center: four months of unlimited access to a facility where mountains of construction materials, furniture, and the detritus of abandoned houses and apartments pass through and are sorted for reuse. Every artist I’ve met in this program finds something astounding. For me that was scraps of paper with hand-written notes–a letter or poem or record of a dream that somehow caught my eye. The performers are engulfed by materials and costumes created from trash, a dual burden of material and memory that requires some effort to convey. In this excerpt, Ingrid Rojas Contreras reads from a chapter of a book on regression that someone typed out with handwritten notes, Dean Hernandez reads sentences from an English language assignment, Florentina Mocanu-Schendel delivers a shopping list mixed up with sermon notes, and I read from a dream journal written in 1993.
This was made possible by Recology. Special thanks to Deborah Munk, Sharon Spain, Micah Gibson, Alison Pebworth, and Miguel Arzabe.
The journey to encounter this piece––the downward slope of the hillside, the rolling fog, the owls hunting from the trees––is integral to the experience of self-reflection.
This work was created while in at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. Special thanks to Margot Knight, Tom Shean, Celia Olsen and Alice Marshall.
In 2007 my partner, the writer Ingrid Rojas Contreras, was struck by a car on the way to pick up her wedding dress, three days before our wedding. She suffered a concussion and temporary amnesia. This incident became the inspiration for our collaborative work Other Half Orbit.
The installation consists of a large reflecting pool with built-in topographies to hold our bodies horizontally at exactly half-submersion. The images of our bodies become completed by reflection, and a secondary reflection of our shadows is cast on the wall. In the performance, we host an unscripted conversation about Ingrid’s memory loss, dreams, identity, and the possibility that we may never know one another fully.
Video: Rory Fraser and Christian Gainsley
Sound: Elisabeth Kohnke
Photographs: Catherine McElhone and Jamil Hellu
In late 2011, Amir Mortazavi of Highlight Gallery and David Kasprzak invited me and eight other artists to create installations in a “fisherman’s cottage”–a single family dwelling built in 1876 in San Francisco’s Marina district–at 3020 Laguna Street. We were instructed to use only materials found in the building, told that the work would be destroyed with the building a month later, and given a key.For my installation Dreamburn I flooded the drive-in garage with a mirrored pool. Beams passing through the roll-up door supported the weighty body of water. I constructed a paper replica of my body (made by laying the paper directly on my skin, adhering it together, cutting it open and resealing each seam). In a performance, I suspended the body above the water, laid in the water under the body double, and set it on fire.
With the support of an Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York, Dreamburn was captured on 16mm film.
Video: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
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