Statement

My artistic practice centers on the remains of the American Civil War, in particular, the reenactments that surround it. I began reenacting the Civil War at age 12 as a mounted cavalry bugle boy. Like many who enter in the populist subculture of war reenactment, my participation grew from a childhood fascination with the gear, the action, and the inclusion in our Homeric epic.

Our Civil War is not over. We can see the unresolved issues far beyond the faux-battlefields. Yet they are made more visible through the gestures of reenactors, not only navigating the gender and racial roles within the politics of reenactment but the physical liveness of the war itself. The liveness is a recursive live, a live that keeps the past live by its ongoing performance. That is to say, the undeadness of the war is manifested in the annual live corpses across the battlefields of Civil War reenactments in what Rebecca Schneider, Professor in Performance Studies at Brown University, describes in her book Performing Remains as a “fleshy kind of document of its own recurrence” (37). By fighting with the liveness of documentation, my work has a significant relationship with the undecidability of death in art. I extend this recursive live/death to art forms often argued as dead such as craft, theatre, and painting.

I now participate in Civil War reenactments as the artist correspondent Winslow Homer. I immerse myself in the materiality of my own obsession by constructing period clothes, camping on the battlefield, and documenting the reenactment similar to Homer’s documentation of the authentic war. Through the mimetic act of embedding myself in the re-performance, I play through one of the most awful experience a human can go through. The work I create situates itself in the same liminal space reenactment inhabits; between life/death, past/present, and simulation/reality. Both my work and reenactment are forms of histories that rely on the impact of the visual and use of the body as a vessel of transmission.