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Goodnight Bear

Goodnight Bear, 2007
Duration: 25:00
live performance

Performed at The Point of Contact Gallery: March 30, 2007

Goodnight Bear tells a tale about the overlapping lives of my father and myself.  As I project old family photos and paintings onto me, I allow the audience to see into the numerous parts of the selves that make up mine and my fathers identities.  Our history is literally revealed through the weaving of stories that I remember being told to me, as well as memories from the past that have never left me.  I am interested in how the relationship between a father and his child function to form a unique dichotomy. 

Excerpt: I was standing in the bedroom of my mother and father, looking at myself in the mirror.  My father was standing next to me, when I asked him, “Am I here?”  He was curious to know what I meant by this, and I explained that I wondered if I died long ago.  I couldn’t comprehend my own presence.  I held onto myself, and looked as hard as I could into that mirror...I looked at my fathers reflection, then back at myself...and wondered if I was really alive. 
Later that night, as I laid in bed, I found myself fighting the urge to sleep.  I feared that if I was in fact alive....sleep would take me to my death.  I heard the steps leading up to my room creaking, then saw my father’s silouhette before me in the doorway.  He approached and knelt down beside me, and I asked him to tell me a story....

This is a tale from many years past, in a land that is far away from here.
It was 8:45 PM in Quessa, Angola on November 27, 1914...this was when your grandfather was born.  The natives called him Mon’a Mulundu (Mountain Child)...Your great-grandmother called him Egbert.  He was born premature, and it was thought by the midwife that he should be discarded...for there was no hope for his survival.  But as his mother looked upon this life that she had just bore, and listened to the cries that he had been waiting to release for so long, she knew that she could never let him go. 
For three years, great-grandmother watched her child sustain himself, despite his small size, but in 1917 he suffered a terrible bout with Typhoid fever and Malaria.  There were many days and nights when his mother was sure that his frail little body would succumb to the unrelenting fever, and in great despair she prayed for his release from further suffering.