At Home and Abroad
240 slides, 3 slide projectors
Dimensions variable
This piece was installed in the bedchamber of Eliza Jumel, long time occupant of the Mansion. She and her first husband Stephen Jumel traveled frequently, especially to Paris in the 19th century. During the years 1851-1854, Madame Jumel took her grandchildren on a Grand Tour of Europe. The painting by Alcide Ercole in the second-floor hallway is a memento of this significant family event. Madame Jumel often contrived stories about her life as she aged and her memory deteriorated. She sometimes gave such significant family events completely new narratives.

With this fragility in mind, I manipulated a set of photographic slides reflecting the life of an anonymous American family, projected alongside a group of found educational slides. The slides all date from the 1950s-1970s and were purchased as one collection. By projecting images made of light, I explored the ephemeral qualities of personal memory, the tenuous borders of cultural meaning, and their intersections.

Unpacked was a solo exhibition of site-specific installations in the period rooms of Morris-Jumel Mansion. It was on view from October 10, 2013 - February 9, 2014. 

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest residence, has a complex history. British Colonel Roger Morris, a loyalist, built the Mansion in 1765 as a summer home. It sat on an estate that extended from present-day 135th Street to 181st Street, from the Hudson River to the Harlem River, on one of the highest natural plateaus in Manhattan. General George Washington used the house as his headquarters from September to October 1776, during the Battle of Harlem Heights. After the Revolutionary War, the Mansion continued to host America’s Founding Fathers, including: Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and George Washington, who all visited the estate in 1791. In 1833, the Mansion briefly became the home of infamous former Vice President, Aaron Burr, during his short, unhappy marriage to Eliza Jumel, a widow and one of the wealthiest women in Manhattan.

For this exhibition, I viewed the Mansion as an artifact, and a silent witness to the founding of the United States. Drawing on the history of the Mansion, the personal experiences of its inhabitants, American history, and current events, I created site-specific installations for the Mansion’s period rooms. These works utilize historical texts, maps, architecture, and found imagery, creating an experience that traces the histories of social phenomena and ideologies into the present.