The Inhabitants

STATEMENT The Inhabitants

During the Regards Croise grant period in Le Havre, France, I investigated the identity of the city through its inhabitants, the people of Le Havre. In my research I also encountered an account by a World War II US Army veteran, who had been a diver in the quays of Le Havre following the Allied bombing, which is said to have killed over 5,000 French citizens, destroying the center of the city. This American diver described how it felt to submerge into the water channels of the city, cleaning the heavy wreckage in order to make the port functional again. I became interested in the extension of this narrative into dance and movement. 

The paintings are a way to record data that only inhabitants can know or own. They peel back layers of the city of Le Havre through individual visual inquiries into its people and places. As I researched the heroic, poetic, and everyday, I developed drawings of exact locations or events that I later translated into ink drawings on Plexiglas. The drawings are then mounted on painted surfaces suggestive of the changing theater of light that exists on a daily, even hourly basis over the water or harbor. 

In using map-like drawings, I’m interested in relieving the places of their cartographic responsibility to navigate, and instead transferring through them a sense of the embedded layers of this city as an identity that is simultaneously centuries old and emergent.

As the series of paintings grew, I began to collaborate with the spectacular dance company La BaZooKa, in particular with Sarah Crépin and Etienne Cuppens. We developed a performance where Sarah embodied the diver as dancer, and worked with ideas of submersion and expansion. I created a live digital progressive painting, projected on to the exterior wall of the museum. Etienne Cuppens created a progressive sound montage for the production. The work was performed for the public, with the paintings temporarily installed at the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art in December of 2012.