inSite94, sponsored by Installation Gallery, San Diego
Location: California State University, San Marcos
At a newly built campus, raw earth was scraped clean of all evidence of the past. Heir Loom was about recovering a history of place.
We began with fragments. Each participant in this project was asked to remember one person or event in the history of San Marcos. They in turn left a visible mark upon the place. Each of the grassy squares of a courtyard was excavated in the shape of their own bodies. Next to this, the participants left a tile inscribed with their own names and their acknowledgment of a piece of San Marcos' past.
Within each of the twenty shapes, remnants of plant detritus found on the building site were placed. A ceremonial act of burning these remains marked a completion of a cycle of life and death.
Attached to the midline of each body-shaped imprint, a strand of filament ascended skyward. Its imagery was inspired by the Luiseno symbol of the wanal wanawut, sometimes called the yula wanawut, wanal being a seine or long net, yula meaning hair or spirit (hair being very sacred, a metaphor for spirit). The ascending strands, tied to a monofilament grid high above, implied a shared participation in time. In and out of time, back and forth from the familiar to the unknown, our lives are woven into an immense web of reverberating action and reaction.
At the end of this project, each of the imprints was restored with new sod with a different growth habit. As the lawn healed from our presence there, it yielded a barely perceptible memory of this event.
Just as others have passed before us, so too will we, our memories held in the imprecise outlines of our successor's imaginations.