a multimedia collaboration
The collection of objects and images in this project include over one hundred items created by visual artist Andrew Cornell Robinson in collaboration with artisans, curators, writers, designers and a DJ.
Set in the American landscape of revolution, Bloodlines explores miraculous and mundane secret human histories, folklore, incantations and peculiar anachronisms to tell the stories of heroic spinsters and radical bachelors. Each character study engenders the creation of queer mythologies, sculptural and symbolic narratives that offer a contemporary retelling of revolution.
This body of work explores the secret lives of individuals. One afternoon, I was looking at a drawing of a woman. Sadie was her name; she was an ancestor of mine on my mother’s side of the family. I know very little about Sadie, other than she was a spinster. I took the drawing out of the frame and looked on the back and found a woman’s name Moira written in pencil on the lower corner. Who was Moira, was she the artist? Was she Sadie’s friend? Lover? Digging a little deeper I found other bachelors and spinsters; dead ends in the family tree. I wondered what their lives had been like.
I decided to create historical fictions about them, which lead me to creating objects and images as evidence of their lives. I began by writing a design personas loosely based on a man, an American revolutionary hero from Flatbush, Brooklyn and a woman, a Dominican radical who fought in the underground against the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Both of these personas were derived respectively from my and my husband’s family trees.
These revised histories were shared with artesian collaborators including a bespoke Panamanian tailor, a DJ, a fashion designer, a fashion photographer and a curator, who then worked with me to create clothing, musical play-lists, editorial photo-shoots, printed images, ceramic and mixed media sculptural objects all of which are presented as heirloom like artifacts. The stories serve as a departure point to the creative enterprise of collaborating to make objects and images; accouterments specific to the personas’ lives.
A Cabinet of Curiosities
I have created taxonomies of heirlooms, objects and images, which explore a revisionist history that resurrect a lost people; spinsters and bachelors whose queer stories fall out of the family tree. Here is a revisionist glimpse of their stories.
Each artifact serves as a testament and contrivance of and to their lives. Through drawing and silk screen I've created a taxonomy of images and objects of Molotov cocktails, guns, food, wine, plantains, a goat, decapitated heads, small figurative groups of picketers and protests; little tokens of a life lived. Using photography and installation I've staged scenarios peopled with these objects, garments and images. All of these things compile to create the evidence of lives and an opportunity to subvert the historical narrative. These collections create a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities of secrets and stories; an invitation to explore and find ourselves within them.
Maria Isabel Rosario (aka Bibin), Dominican Republic
Many suitors pursued Bibin, as she was considered the most beautiful of her three sisters. Alas she was married and divorced three times; no man could satisfy her. She was dedicated to her children, her land and her sense of justice. She hated the dictator Rafael Trujillo, aka “el chivo” (the goat). You see el chivo coveted Bibin’s beauty and she consistently scorned his advances so he took her sisters and stole her land. She escaped into the rainforest and swore her revenge upon el chivo and all those who supported him. And everything that el chivo attempted to build or grow on her land was burned to the ground.
Bibin would pray to her protector, Saint Moira the patron saint of the separation of church and state and the protector of bold women. After blowing up a secret police station she would ask for forgiveness and seek protection for herself, her rebel comrades and pray for misery upon her enemies. Saint Moira had a special fondness for her and continues to watch over her many descendants and scorns the corrupt and powerful.
Fred Frelinghuysen, Flatbush, Brooklyn, United States
Fabulous Fierce Fred Frelinghuysen the Fashionable Foppish revolutionary war hero who squashed his adversaries. Fred and his compatriots, under George Washington crossed the Delaware in the decisive Battle of Trenton. That winter was particularly bitter. Fred and his men were short on supplies and starving. You could tell where his troops were by tracking their bloody footprints in the snow. They had been reduced to cooking and eating the leather of their boots and what ever they could scavenge or steal. They were lucky to have hijacked a supply train in Camden and in it were pink satin and wool fabrics enroute to Trenton, bound for the mistress of the commander of the Hessian mercenaries, Colonel Johann Rall. Fred lovingly sewed new uniforms for he and his men. He always made sure they ate first. They adored him, and he adored them back. He promised a hot meal to each man who brought him a Brittish or Hessian soldier’s head on a spike. He stopped counting after 88. And while his men’s successful slaughter of the enemy brought a crooked smile to his lips and a cooked meal to his men, it was shooting Colonel Johann Rall at Trenton, there by bringing an end to that battle, that gave him the glory and satisfaction he had been seeking. Never underestimate a man who has nothing to lose.
The Bloodlines Historical Society Installation
The installation of Bloodlines included wall text of various quotations and statements. The work was installed in small groups, each with its own heading, like a living graphic blog or magazine composition. Each of the groups were framed by headings. The exhibition was designed as a pseudo historical society installation with heirlooms, and stories, family and historical records. It even included playlists composed by a collaboration between Robinson and DJ Lament which explored the musical tastes of the fictional characters that the project was based on.
The devil follows me night and daybecause he hates to be alone.
General’s pansy division slaughters 88
The secret that always gives itself away
Lesbian voodoo priestess blows up police station
Next year there’ll be no oysters, enjoy them while you can