Constructing Tante Cilet
This is a video draft of Comment Nannite est devenu tante Cilet so kindly taken for me the day of the NSU Art museum opening 25 June 2015 in Fort Lauderdale Florida.
This project was created primarily from Berlin Germany after a brief trip to New York City to document images from our disparate "family albums". After our family's untimely departure from Haiti in the late 1960s during the Francois Duvalier era we have lost so many images that record the private lives of our families. Through the years as the now haitian diaspora we have made numerous relocations which has continued to result in the loss of images. My father always sustained a small photographic hobby as far back as the early 1960s around the time of my birth. In the USA he would soon discover the slide-transparency film format popular among millions in the 1970s. A newly single mother of the 1980s offered a new re-framing of her familial role now that so many other family members had through the years emigrated to the North American continent.
This project was concretely developed using the assistance of computer aided drafting to formulate in virtual 3D the stacked moving boxes that would coordinate with the selection of images that would be appropriate to create the implicit narrative of my mothers life from childhood to old age.
The project was modified from its original vision which encompassed a larger Haitian diaspora "family" by accessing existing archives, such as Pikliz in Florida and elsewhere.
I had contemplated an audio environment with music from my youth such as the Haitian band Tabou Combo, from Petionville Port au prince, with the diaspora anthem entitled "New York City".
The band had relocated to Brooklyn in 1970 and formed part of the Haiti abroad community that this installation originally strived to convey. I had assumed , incorrectly, that the installation could/would have its own isolated room. It was always intended to be large and in the end is approximately ±13 ft (4meters) x ±10ft (3meters) in height. My formation as an architect and years of museum exhibition design work has made strategizing scale almost second nature to my art practice.
My photo documentation trip to New York (miraculously unwritten by Small Axe Journal & the Warhol Foundation and unrelated to the NSU Art Museum) allowed for this work to be created. During this trip I realized that this particular installation artwork would revolve around my mother. She had come to be known through the years, to the surprise of my brother and I, by all family (not only by our cousin Ketlie) members and extended friends as "tante Cilet". Therefore the project was titled Comment Nannite est devenu tantet Cilet or in English "How Nannite Became Aunt Cilet" (Nannite being a mondegreen/malapropism from a Spanish-language song in the late 1930s).