What We Can't See We Can Imagine  2013

Site specific performance with Annie Danis at Vasquez Rocks, CA

Vásquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California formed 25 million years ago from an erosion of the San Gabriel Mountains and the collision of tectonic plates from the San Andreas Fault. The resulting feature and surrounding landscape have been the site of human activity for thousands of years: home to the Tatavian, hide-out for 19th century bandito Tiburcio Vásquez (giving the formation it’s name) and inclusion in dozens of Hollywood films. It exists in unseen layers of human experience, cultural references, and multi-vocal histories.

The performance explores the cultural traces on this landscape through bodily experience. Two figures, moving on and through the landform, echo the myriad human interactions with the place as a site of illusion, protection, and historical significance. The figures ultimately disappear into the rock, highlighting the relationship between action and document and conceiving of the experience as artIfact. While the landform appears physically unaltered, a video records the body’s interaction with it, acting as a witness to the event and representation of the physical experience of site still present both within the memories of the figures and the place.

Any archaeological interpretation is an inference of human presence from human absence. Focusing on site-based experience prompts questions about the ability of the archaeological gaze to assesstraces beyond the durable, visible world and those traces’ role in history- and place-making.

Camera: Arjuna Neuman
Costumes: Rose Mackey

Theoretical Archaeology Group 2013 (Chicago, IL and Izmir, Turkey).