Partial Recall (1998)
With Elizabeth Stephens
Mounted mirror plaques with etched text, stenciled statistics made with flour.
The Nexus Gallery in Philadelphia invited Elizabeth Stephens and I to create a site specific work in the historical Old Town section of Philadelphia as part of the September, 1998 Fringe Festival. Working partly in San Francisco, partly on site in Philadelphia, we developed two pieces: Partial Recall and Auto-Biography.
In Partial Recall, we juxtaposed Ben Franklin’s words of wisdom to statistics about contemporary Philadelphia life. We wanted to explore how Ben’s “Pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” philosophy fares today. Throughout the period of the Fringe Festival, in the historical neighborhood where Franklin’s presence is immortalized, we placed our own historical plaques. Each one was a mirror etched with the text of a Franklin aphorism, some words missing as though lost through time. Below each mirror, we stenciled a statistic with white flour – a certain fact, stable for an hour or a day or a week, constantly shifting with wind and foot traffic. We question whether statistics have become the anchor for today’s social decisions, the modern day “words to the wise.”