The Nixon Tapes (2012)
The Nixon Tapes (TNT)
My work is subjectively personal, placing emphasis on story telling, social studies and a conceptual approach to representing the everyday—a way of working based on observation of the world. It is highly autobiographical in nature, revealing a keen interest in record keeping and investigative research.
While talking with a friend one day, she recounted, in great detail, the first time she'd slept with her husband. Coitus was interrupted when he suddenly jumped from the couch to gape at a spectacle unfolding on TV—it was August 8, 1974 and U.S. President Richard M. Nixon was resigning office. I then described to my friend how I'd been clear across the country, suffering from severe sunburn and a bad acid trip, witnessing the same live broadcast. Besides the coincidence, I was struck by the depth of our recollection surrounding an event that had occurred three decades previously. Within it I recognized a suitable framework that would provide a connection in time and space between people and their stories.
The disgrace of President Nixon is not high on anyone's list in terms of the where-were-you-when phenomenon—it does not fall into the same category as the assassination of JFK, the demise of Princess Diana or 9/11. People's memories of those events are very personal, often quite emotional and very well documented. The Nixon scandal, however, does not deal with death, but a moral and ethical failure—a tragedy of character. This is a rich vein in terms of sense memory—I found the event charged with possibility.
All The President's Men springs to mind in terms of the mythology that grew around the Watergate Scandal. In this book, authors Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters from the Washington Post, recount how they uncovered a conspiracy that led all the way to the top. The legacy of that event is about investigation, the power of meaning and the dominant discourse. My work, on the other hand, undermines standard ways of collecting information and keeping history—my method subverts mainstream structures and standards. While continuing the narrative thread from past work, this project constitutes the exploration of new ground for me. The Nixon Tapes is not so much about Richard Nixon—the subject isn't him in the end, but the stories of ordinary people that surround that moment, highlighting not only the historical but the cultural context of the time. The central theme of this project is the subjectivity of recollection. What I'm presenting is a parallel social history—a more subverted discourse. Like Nixon and his tapes, I want to create a record—a portrait of an era.
For the gallery-installation effect, play Angelo and Gabrielle videos at the same time