Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Rememory, coined in Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved, refers to the psychological action of placing forgotten or misplaced memories into a narrated context within the self. Rather than directly “remembering,” the characters in Morrison’s novel, like their author, rely on a web of socially produced or shared memories as a way to understand their past. This essay catalogs an on-going performance of rememory in my photographic work. Through an interrogation of physical archives, I remap the historic presences of Black life in New England. This research based practice takes me to the preserved homes and to the workplaces of my real ancestors and fictive kin: African, European, and Indigenous peoples who collided in the port towns of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I search for and “inhabit” house museums that claim a Black history as a way to challenge the imperatives of traditional preservation. Regionally these specific preservationist traditions shroud and stage a space to contemplate the complex forms of violence constituted in colonial America. Using still photography, sound design, and language, I transform the preserved house and the landscape of the region into zones where Blackness, and the rememory of slavery, is central to acquisition of historical knowledge. In each of these zones, I engage a practice of slow looking and listening mediated through the large format camera. In this essay, I think through my photographs as they facilitate the sensorial action of rememory. In addition to Morrison, I explore shared theoretical frames between W.E.B. Du Bois, Michel Rolph Trouillot, Hortense J. Spillers, and Saidiya Hartman to situate my work within an ongoing dialogue of how Blackness functions in and outside of historical narrative.
Jackson, Jonathan Mark, "Rememory" (2022). Masters Theses. 907.
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