ELEGY 2012 plaster casts, flour, mirror, digital projection
A poetic gesture for obsolete histories, personal and universal; a meditation on the ephemerality of time and existence. Music sampled from Vietnamese dan bau. Inspired by my mother’s Vietnamese refugee history, an elegy to her sister that disappeared.
The environment for the performance comprised of a landscape of limbs devoid of body– hollow plaster molds made from the artist’s feet and legs strewn about the floor. The molds were partially filled with flour– reminiscent of bone dust and debris– and encircled in a circle of flour. Throughout this array were scattered sheaths of mirrored glass. Projected onto the entire set was a moving image of TV static–creating a surreal, disorienting abstraction.
The beginning of the performative action coincides with the beginning of the music. For this piece, I created a sound piece from a found recording a Vietnamese lullaby played on a dan bau (traditional zither). Layering many elements of the piece for emphasized repetition and reverb, the sound component of the work begins as a fragile lullaby that gradually transitions into white noise– aural phenomenon that carries strong spectral associations with death and that is crafted as a metaphor for the voices and events of times past; residual layers which remain subliminally within the present.
As the music begins, the artist– dressed in flowing white material as to be subsumed into the tableau– begins a slow, dance-like procession throughout the orchestrated landscape. Barefoot, she treads on the molds and glass, the sounds of the glass cracking becoming a part of the aural composition. She completes one large circle, then exits. The projection remains until the music fades.