“Lettres pour Yaya Mujinga , as read by her grandchild”

DESCRIPTION:

PERFORMANCE: Positioned in a public, mundane space; the Artist reads aloud from letters inherited from her grandmother, in her grandmother’s native language, which the artist can neither speak nor understand. performance duration: 8 hours.

"LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD" 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

“LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD” 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

"LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD" 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

“LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD” 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

"LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD" 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

“LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD” 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

"LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD" 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

“LETTRES POUR YAYA MUJINGA, AS READ BY HER GRANDCHILD” 2015. Video Still. Video/Image credit: Karl Schwiesow

STATEMENT:

This performance project articulates the broken links between generations caused by colonialism, displacement, and finally: loss. These letters were sent to my grandmother from her family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over a span of fifty years, after war and a mixed marriage took her from her home. The majority of these letters are written in Tshiluba, her native language.

Upon Mujinga’s death this August, I—as her grandchild, namesake, and surrogate—inherited one side of a fifty-year effort to remain connected, written in a language I can neither speak nor understand. In struggling to read them all, aloud, in this public way, I am signaling—and speaking into—the void.