In 2008 I sent out a call for participation for individuals who struggled with the following family issues: 1. Estrangement from a sibling, 2. Surviving the death of a loved one, 3. Their relationship with their mother, and finally, 4. A close relationship with a relative with an emotional disorder. 17 people responded.
After extensive interviews and questionnaires about the histories, roles and variables in the relationships, I drew up official contracts detailing the rights and obligations of each party. While only one person from each relationship was interviewed, the contracts aim to reflect the needs of both. The following are four examples of the "ketubot", illuminated documents, that put emotions into legal language.
Above: Ketubah between Estranged Siblings 001, acrylic and ink on paper, 60x85 cm, 2008.
Excerpt from text: "-The sister will not force interactions with the brother and then act bitter when he does not respond in a way she would like. -The brother will express himself more often in the same patient manner he explained to her why Bruce Springsteen was a good musician when she was only 13.”
Ketubah with a Deceased Loved One 001, ink on paper, 60x85cm, 2008.
Excerpt from text: " -The father recognizes that he will leave the daughter with a feeling of wanting more time, which both parties acknowledge will never go away or subside. For that reason, the father agrees to visit the daughter posthumously and make his ghost image visible to her."
Ketubah between Mother and Daughter 002, ink on paper, 60x85cm, 2009.
Excerpt from text: " -For the benefit of both parties, the mother’s bigtimefuckups during the daughter’s upbringing will no longer be discussed in present arguments or misunderstandings. -The mother will not accuse the daughter of berating her about the past when the latter tries to discuss the issues of the moment.
This document hereby affirms that the daughter is in most respects exactly like her mother. "
Ketubah with a Relative with an Emotional Disorder 001, ink on paper, 60x85cm, 2009.
Excerpt from text: "...this agreement holds evident the sentiments, actions and reactions of both parties leading up to this day’s date, as elaborated below, and will maintain these truths as constant until further expressed and modified:
...-The younger is unable to find a correct way to act and respond to the older. -The latter understands this and will not react angrily when the younger says, asks or indicates the “wrong” thing."
Interpreting a contract signing as a performance of commitment, I used the Ketubah between Estranged Siblings as a script.
In this short film, two siblings hash out years of animosity in their family home, with an omniscient radio and television as legal witnesses.
Official Selection: 2010 New York International Independent Film Festival, 2010 Barcelona Jewish Film Festival.
In La Capella Centre d'Art, I constructed a living room to exhibit the project. Seated on the couch, viewers watch "Document" while mirroring the characters in the short. In other words, in a home setting, they watch while being watched. Ketubah between Estranged Siblings 001, which was the basis for the script, hangs above seated viewers and faces the screen.