The title Reconstructions comes from the Reconstruction Era a period in our country after the civil war that focused on the transformation of the Southern States. It was a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the US, so the title lends itself to that term, and ideas that are reflected in the work. In many ways it is a snapshot of my life. On one level I am doing my own reconstructing by interpreting if you will events and ideas around slavery, and history. I’m putting myself in places of New York City’s colonial past. Events that we still have to contend with, so there are many reconstructions going on. On the other side I am playing with the family album recreating what that means for my daughter and I.
I’ve always been interested in how metaphors are used in daily language. If you break the phrase down, another definition of the word “dead” means “precise,” like “dead center”. The word “ringer” comes from a 19th-century horse racing term used to describe a horse substituted for another of similar appearance and trotted around as a way to way to defraud the bookies.
So the term “dead ringer” means “exact duplicate” and is typically used when referring to one person’s likeness to another. When thinking about this term in relation to my show, I took artistic license to think of how the term “dead ringers” could apply not just to people but things too. For example, the flesh-colored stockings used in my installation are manufactured to be dead ringers for a woman’s skin tone.
Further relating this conceptual idea to the photographs of mugshots of women all named “Qiana”, the title/term “Dead Ringers” for me also instigated thoughts about the practices behind (offender and racial) profiling.