I am interested in that because, to me, your work does seem planned and is also engaging with complex political ideas. What are the steps that happen before you end up in the studio with your models and any props or costumes that you are using?
It mainly just comes from my gut and from trusting that something is going to come out where it's supposed to be. I keep thinking that the next time it should be easier, but it's never easier. My work is minimal, but yet the longer you look at it, it says a lot more than just what you're looking at. I'm not an argumentative person, but I obviously have opinions. I realize that arguments or debates are just not a great use of time; I don't think they really do anything.
I started realizing you can make a statement; and if you do it in a quiet, beautiful way, you're inviting somebody to think about something or talk about it. How we deal with things oftentimes is everybody's yelling at each other, and nobody's even saying anything. They're just, you know, talking. I did a project about that, actually, called "White Noise
." It's simply about that--we are screaming at each other, and it's just this endless argument based on nothing. I thought a more powerful way to have a dialogue is to do it through a beautiful introduction and a quiet, inviting way to enter especially dealing with things like race.
When I started "Historical Correction" in 2012, I really thought in two years, it would become irrelevant. I grew up in the civil rights era, so I have watched decade after decade of racism being reinvented, and it just shocks me. I think why I feel so strongly about the topic of race is that it is the most basic form of prejudice--like it is so outright. The color of your skin...that's it; that's what it's based on. And I just find that appalling. I find it appalling that we're still talking about it. What are we talking about? We're not talking about it; we're not dealing with it. There's definitely other forms, but I think this is just the most basic. I try not to listen to much news just because it's kind of crazy. I watch documentaries. I try to get information about history and what is going on today. Somehow, in that process, eventually, something just clicks, and it's usually based on either absurdity or contradiction.
Looking at history, like with the "Forefathers" series, we talk about these people...these great men...these people who founded the country, and it’s all about freedom, and yet they were all slave owners!? Nobody seems to talk about that fact. George Washington was one of the most brutal slave owners.
Yet, he is held up as an example of freedom. I’m not trying to denounce anything he did that was good, but you also have to acknowledge the fact that he was a brutal slave owner.