Six Generations is an evolving multimedia series of works using archival materials, family photos, and historical records to delve into a quintessential American story. Memorial and remembrance are central to the series: Through structured call-and-response, the artworks navigate complex themes, entwining the intricacies of emancipation, the interplay between Black abjection and resistance, and the hidden costs of so-called progress. The works serve as embodiments of temporal and affective spaces, bridging the gap between pasts, presents, and futures.
The driving force behind the creation of Six Generations lies in the exploration of archival materials and their intangible legacies. The ephemeral inheritances conveyed are not just conduits of history but also spaces of artistic speculation. The gaps and silences within the archives provide fertile ground for creative interpretation and reflection.
Six Generations: A Work in Progress (?) was an installation (SAIC Galleries, Chicago that was composed of multi-channel sound within a sculpted visual space. It was an invocation of the Burden family’s homestead house in Nebraska. It was also a plaintive remembrance of the Umonhon, Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe, Missouri, and Ioway peoples who endured violent displacement from Nibthaska so that that homestead could occur, and their ongoing lives.
The artwork was a structured call-and-response, delving into the complexities of emancipation, the interplay between the polychronicity of Black abjection and the polytemporality of Black resistance, while also reflecting on the price of so-called progress.
The work began with an examination of familial archives of family photographs, the earliest of which dates from the late 1800s, and newspaper clippings. The images are of an afterlife of slavery and an advent of emancipation; they have always evoked in me a sense of the everywhen. hooks (1995) notes that, “Using images, we connect ourselves to a recuperative, redemptive memory that enables us to construct radical identities, images of ourselves that transcend the colonizing eye.” This is not just a linear prospect, handing down objects from one generation to the next; it is everywhen in its “living presence.”