click on my Bima to play (its a big file, so it might take a sec)

I spent a week with my grandmother in August. I sat with her on the porch every morning drinking burnt coffee and watching the birds who live in the Asian maple tree. Half blind, she listens to them sing and tells me the same stories all over again. I feel very close to her, in synch. “The tree is dying because there are too many of them,” she says. She goes inside with a sigh; the lawn is littered with saltines. I eavesdrop through the screen, she is talking to ghosts again and it occurs to me that time passes so quickly, we fall in love and out again, move from place to place, failing then fixing, but we all end up frail like our grandmothers, alone in the end.  I filmed my grandmother re-telling stories. By including my questions, my voice, her story becomes part of my own. I have seen the details of these stories change over time. What is most interesting are not the facts of my grandmother's life, but the way she chooses to remember them.

 

Click on the bulb to play

Now I am here, watching him fiddle with the projector as he watches the footage of my brother driving. I don’t just watch though… I give instructions. I tell him what to do. I tell him how to watch. The drive to the cemetery would have been silent but for the super 8. My stare mediated by the machine, my voice a constant hum desperately trying to communicate something (anything). Things keep breaking in the dark. Bulbs keep blowing, exploding in an instant and then it is dark. I long for things that are gone or ruined. I try to move what is still. And I watch… confronting, contemplating, longing. My looking always unfulfilled.

 

Click on the office to play

Piles of stuff overwhelm the giant desk in my father’s office. Shot from the perspective of a surveillance camera, I sort through it, paper by paper, deciding what to keep and what to discard. The audio is a collage of the conversations with my mother about what I find, from The Joys of Jello book to a Faye’s Drug store receipt from 1983 for lice shampoo.

I used to get bored at temple. I would sit in his big chair and draw pictures amidst the ancient melodies (piped in through speakers).  He left little things for me to find. I pulled open the top right drawer with glee. I left him notes and wishes, sliding them beneath the glass.    

Now this is what it looks like to look at me (dismantling history). Frenetic. Proving my piety. With each discovery, my delight seems perverse. I hold each object and read each letter as if it will explain what has happened. As if there is no cruelty to the notion that things continue amidst all this. Out the window it is still snowing and I try to make something out of nothing. Arranging a pile of stones, erecting a monument.

 

click birdies to play

If you are willing to listen closely, you will understand where I have been. Birds communicate throught their chirps and songs. Driving around on a fine spring day Don Kroodsma, soothing the airwaves, notes that birds acquire song like children learn language. Bird dialects vary from region to region... place becomes more important than geneology. The plastic birds are from the dollar store, the live birds caged in a nursing home. Terry Gross slows down the recordings while Don tells me what to listen for.

 

click on the pan to play

The process of making pancakes, a futile attempt to relive a childhood memory that is imbued with nostalgia and sentimentality, translates into a sincere gesture as it oscillates between hilarity and sadness. Part document and part performance, the camera itself shifts between objective distance and subjective presence and explores the solitude of the artistic process and the way one negotiates the past and often tries to hold onto or pay tribute to that which has been lost.

 

click on corner to play (left) then click on floor to play (right)

"Dear Hyla, I think you can stop saying that you don't know what you are doing... Watching these, the pink corner- caught between reverence and irreverance... the experience of living life caught between such seriousness and an unbearable lightness." (Arrow drawn down to the bottom of the page) "Yeah. You need to own it- also you need to read Gaston Blachard's The Poetics of space and a lot of other stuff so that you'll know that you know, you know?" -AB & RL

click note to play

I like to think of him coming across these words, jotting them down. Leaving it for me absent-mindely. Yet, this is an artifact, the star of my archive in fact. Is it possible to create something which conveys a complete emotional state, daily life filtered through loss, without suffering from sentimentality?

click on faces to play

 

*to replay any of the videos, please refresh the page and click on the video again (i haven't quite figured out the best way to embed videos yet, sorry)