I decided to make a pair of videos in an attempt to honor this secret aspect of her life. It seemed to lend a more personal context for this whole investigation of performed femininity/ gender expectations that I've been circling in my work. I edited Alex's original letters together into a message that conveyed the most significant-seeming details, as well as the overall cadence and tone. Using Alex's words as a prompt, I invented a response letter from her, which had to be informed by my knowledge of her life during the early years of her marriage (I could think of no other way to access her experience). I recorded myself reading each "letter", as well as the sound of me writing out the words by hand, and paired the audio with corresponding pictures of each of them. Editing/recreating the text enabled me to emphasize/ infuse the aspects that most clearly speak to the choices she made from the options she was given. Reading the words in my own voice allowed me to embody and empathize with each of them. It was a very intimate thing, but also became distanced in a way through the dramatizing/ performing of it--they became characters playing roles in a particular situation. It wasn't as though I really knew either of them as people, so their words and pictures still felt archetypal, even with the familial connection.
As a piece, I envision the videos being installed in a dark space, with Alex's video playing first on one wall, then Momo's response video playing on the opposite wall after his has ended, set up in such a way that the viewer has to stand between them. Something like this:
There is also an element of exploring the intersection of past and present-- how our present knowledge and understanding of events can manipulate the space of the past; how events of the past can inform the present and speak to us about contemporary experiences.
Anyway, here are the videos: