Christina Melchiorre (Rock Hill, USA): Attempting Insanity

  • 19 Jun 2021 4pm UTC
  • dur 20min

I have always found myself living in a gray area regarding my family; as much as they irk me, drive me up the wall, make me want to scream and shout words at them that I know I otherwise shouldn’t say, I don’t. Because the redemption that I find within them stems from the moments where we’re all laughing and smiling, and for once, I’m proud to say that, “Hey, my laugh actually does sound like Dad’s and Rachel’s.” It is this constantly unbalanced seesaw that I find myself riding, one that inevitably, I have the choice to get off, but I do not. I stay on it, always leaning towards one side or the other, but after some time, the opposing side gains more weight, and suddenly I’m experiencing it, all for it to begin looping again. And as I move through this gray area, I find that I am slowly yet surely unveiling what it is, what it looks like, how I interpret it, and how I can show it. With this in mind, I’ve decided to choose one aspect of this “gray area” to focus on, and have created an installation that has multiple elements to it, yet they come together to create a unified piece with a four-walled room, representing a sort of domesticity. However, here, I am only showing Trial 1 and Trial 2, 2 out of the 3 aspects of this installation as they represent the performative element of this work. Each aspect, or trials, explore a different avenue of the binary that my work discusses, but the tying element amongst them all is that there is some form of effort to push past, and even though failure happens, I keep going. This is reflective of my initial concept; I choose to remain connected to my family despite how much hurt they’ve caused me, and in this piece, I continue to try, and even though I stumble and trip, I still keep going in hopes that something other than failure will happen, much like how I hope that my family will get better. The first aspect to this piece, Trial 1, the part that began it all, is a recorded audio file of my family fighting from the summer of 2020. I was upstairs when they were yelling, and I decided to record their voices. In conjunction with this audio, I am showing how I cope when hearing them yell. As a part of this coping process, I usually imagine the better moments that I have with my family as a way to get through their arguments. I began by collecting videos I had taken of my family from social media applications over the past few years, such as SnapChat and TikTok, both long and short in duration. These videos, which are my home videos, contain media depicting them smiling, laughing, being silly, goofy, and overall happy. In order to contrast these videos, I recorded myself breathing, tapping, and counting from numbers one to four, all of which are my direct responses to the audio of the argument. This is a sensorial recreation of how I process their fights. All four audio tracks fluctuate in volume, allowing certain parts to be more pronounced than others, simulating how I would tune in and out of the overall experience. The second aspect of this piece, Trial 2, is a recorded performance of myself practicing yoga without a yoga mat. This pairs, yet also contrasts itself, to Trial 1; the yoga is a direct tie to the consistent, yet fluctuating, one-to-four counting that can be heard in Trial 1, yet the pace is quite different. Trial 1 is choppier, full of colors and movement, and having it be combined with the various audio tracks, it makes for a heavily stimulating video. Meanwhile, Trial 2 is slower, more evenly paced, and the colors are dim and soothing, almost monochromatic. Yoga is a peaceful activity that aims to work both the mind and body. Yet even with the similar and dissimilar qualities between the two videos, Trial 2 still contains the main concept at its core; I am trying to do something, particularly a task that I haven’t done for some time, making me out of practice, I don’t use a mat, which is a part of the practice that makes yoga more successful, my breathing is staggered and uneven, not even like it should be, my thoughts aren’t clear, my mind always racing, I stumble, am off balance, and am ultimately struggling the entire time, yet despite all of these obstacles, I still push through, hoping that, with more practice, more time, I will succeed. That something will finally give. I choose to put myself through this laborious, draining process, with faith that something good will come from my efforts.

BIO: My work explores the narrative I have with family in relation to who I am and how I have developed as a result of both positive and negative influences. Despite the dysfunctional dynamics that I experience with my family, I choose to remain connected to them. However, finding a balance in these relationships can prove difficult. I am interested in how I can represent these tedious yet impactful interactions and relationships with my family by using interdisciplinary media. I do this specifically through the use of concrete, rope, video, performance, audio of surveyed conversations as well as recorded speech of my own stream-of-consciousness and premeditated writing. To further fuel this concept, I use these materials in conjunction with my research regarding psychological approaches and varying modern conceptual artists, such as reading The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics, written by Jay G. Silverman, Lundy Bancroft, and Daniel Ritchie, as well as studying artists such as Ellie Ga and her video, installation, and performance art. I do this to create work that is rich in concept, rooted in research, and digestible at many differing levels. I am delving into the emotionally intimate space that I’ve lived in for so long where both these negative and positive beacons of connection exist as one unit. The stuffed wolf plushie that I’ve had since adolescence makes me think of the fond, warm memory of my mother gifting it to me, yet at the same time, I’m reminded of my bratty nagging that begged her to get it for me in the first place when we didn’t have the money for it to begin with. Both of these memories exist together as one within the small body of the soft yet haunting plushie, yet I still keep it despite the negativity attached to it. Along with capturing moments like these, I am aiming to share my findings for reasons I have yet to discover, along with reasons I am already aware of. I already know the dysfunction that exists within my family, yet I want to know more about where it started, how much it has truly affected each of us, and if anything can be done to stop it. If whether these answers lie within each individual, my family as a whole, or if there aren’t any answers at all. All I know is that I feel an intuitive drive to discover these answers, with the hope that these answers do exist, and that the dysfunction can finally stop. But even so, as I search for answers, analyze my past, and explore the coexistence of these positive and negative experiences, I find that my discoveries and inquiries support my choice to remain connected to my family, as I am jointly suspended between moments of uplifting love and weighted negligence. ARTIST’S WEBSITE