• Krowswork Gallery
  • Oakland, CA
  • 2016
  • video installation

“The earth is suffocating …..Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won’t be buried alive” — F. Chopin

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish composer, born & raised near Warsaw. At 21 he moved to Paris, where he lived until his death in 1849. For political reasons he was never able to return to his native Poland. After his death, in accordance with his will, his heart was removed from his body and smuggled back to Poland, where it is now located in an interior architectural column in the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. This final resting place of Chopin’s heart is visited by a steady stream of Chopin’s admirers from all over the world. Chopin’s body is buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

The story of Chopin’s heart inspired this installation, which explores the subjects of exile, displacement, refugees, and the separation of heart and body.

In each of the three chapters of the multi-linear narrative of the installation, three videos were projected onto walls & translucent columns, which visitors could move among and around, enabling multiple viewpoints and an intimate connection with the work. Chapter 3 included recorded voices of immigrants telling their stories or reading poems on the subject of exile, together with projections of scrolling texts in multiple languages and scripts.

The complexity of overlapping voices & projections, and of real scenery juxtaposed with imaginary, created an overall feeling of dislocation and uncertainty, typical of the experience of an immigrant.

The exploration is in a sequence of three chapters:

1. Tending the Heart
2. Cut Me Open
3. Separation


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