History Sighs (2004-2006)

History Sighs consists of twenty still photographs and a two-channel video piece. This work addresses how history can (and can’t) manifest itself within a place, exploring two sites with related historical significance. The videos and photographs serve as important counterpoints to one another: the videos operate as meditations, or broad strokes, while the photographs function as grounded, detailed, empirical observations.

On one screen of the video piece, we see the sun set over the Arabian Sea (titled, British Landing Site, Low Tide…), on the second screen we see the sun rise over the Atlantic (titled Columbus Landing Site, High Tide…). Both play simultaneously in real-time for twenty minutes, linking the two places through the reflexive movement of the sun. The always-moving, but ever-present sun serves as a poetic representation of the idea of empire, offering an infinite global time loop.

The photographs, on the other hand, remind us of the flipside of the romantic notion of exploration. They examine the banal remains of commerce and exploitation through the landscape surrounding these two sites—specifically the sugar industry. The photographs reveal details about the way in which cane farming shapes and demarcates the land. The prosaic nature of the photographs draws reference to the places themselves, which grounds the more abstract notion of history in the videos to something tangible and specific.

If early colonialism can be seen as a precursor to the economic “globalism” we witness today (as indeed I think it can), this body of work looks for clues of the roots of this collective impulse to conquer. History Sighs suggests the interconnectedness of people, places and events, and the cyclical nature of human experience.