White Skin, Black Kin: A Creole Conversation Piece
In this re-created (fictitious) family portrait, the white Creole female appears as “actress-text” in a plantation Great House tableau that unfolds to explore Creole family relationships. Posed against a background of patrilinear ancestry (portraits on the wall), the female family members (mother and daughters) articulate the gulf between symbolic masculine power and silenced feminine domesticity. I subvert this unequivocal form of portraiture by “re-presenting” the family in its entirety. While the white family members visually articulate (frozen) social and familial propriety in their well-decorated drawing room, the illusory black “family” members are shown to symbolically unravel the inconsistencies within the household through devices of visual and / or sound intervention. Through their constant “ghosted” movement within the picture plane and with their “behind the scenes” conversations, the black / interracial family insists on a presence that functions to rupture the artifice of the officially staged (historical) portrait. A violent history of sexual exploitation by the white master is sharply revealed to the attentive viewer.