". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, April 26, 2013

‘The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits of Corsetry & Binding’

An installation that opens at the Jumel Mansion at the beginning of May, created by artist-designer, Camilla Huey.

Based on the women in the life of Burr — the controversial vice president and duelist who briefly lived in the mansion — the exhibit explores his mother, daughter, two wives and four purported mistresses through the allure of their corsets.
“It is the most intimate of fashions, extremely personal and close to the heart, and it corrects and conceals and stifles and seduces and constrains and thrusts forward form all at the same time,” Huey said.

The feature includes lovely photographs of Huey's corset installations, reflecting the period design and milieu that would be a part of the individual woman's daily life.

I am biased about this show, as the artist and I have shared many conversations about Aaron Burr, his life, his people and his times over the course of some years now.  Huey's interest is from a different angle than mine, but that means we have been able to expand each other's vision and information.

As the photos show, Huey's creations show both imagination and deep knowledge of the time, the class and insight into each of the individuals she's brought back into view from behind the veils of the past.

The fitted females contained within, most of them authors and diarists and letter-writers, were accomplished in their era, but have been all but forgotten in the 21st century, and Huey is elevating them from the footnotes of history.
“I wanted to come close to these women and see what they were really like, and the way I know women is by dressing them and knowing their sizes and personal preferences and clothing and colors and tastes and fragrances,” she said.

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