Still.Life. was created for the Listening Through Time and Space: An Interactive Oral History Exhibit at Columbia University.
For the women born in the 1920s in Trinidad and Tobago, the generation of grandmothers, it was the women who kept the secrets; they held the stories of the family. It was in the company of women where one could remove the veil; it was in that space that one could be weak, and have your shames dignified. It was the mothers who went in secret to other mothers to borrow money for clothes when the family was short. It was the grandmothers who counseled the young wives on how to survive, and how to move through the world. They passed on these strategies generation to generation, talking in hushed voices over tea; over the stove; over the wall in the garden; one woman to another.
Each of these wisdoms, and strategies, has a history, and that larger history is rarely told - only the wisdom remains as inheritance for the next generation. This project looks at what these wisdoms reveal about the historical, and sociological, realities of life that made them necessary. It attempts to place them in the context of the history of an island colony, the global story of empire, and the history of race, and class, itself.
These portraits were created as part of the exhibit. Visitors were invited to enter a private booth to experience these portraits on large screens. They were designed to be an immersive experience of listening - one that invites you engage both with the narrators words, and with their silences.
For the best experience I invite you to listen to them with headphones.