ABC's of my Private Life

L’ABCdaire de ma vie privée

Inks, pencil, watercolor on vellum paper(DIN A3 format), 2005

The ABCs of my private life are four pages (A,B,C,D) of an imaginary ABC book. This work documents, in part, the four places: Port-au-Prince/Haiti, Brooklyn NY/USA, Paris/France, Berlin/Germany in the chronological order of my personal experience. 

Both the ‘text-book’ and the ‘family album’ as document and notation are appropriated for this work, making private what is public and vice versa. 

‘L’ABCdaire de ma vie privée’ attempts to playfully ‘stand-in’ as Dick & Jane of my childhood had for many regardless of regional or ethnic origin. 

In the ABCs, prominence is given to the personal and historical experience in the guise of the pedagogical text. Such words as ‘Arrestation’(the arrest) or Creole spellings such as Ayiti (Haiti) or hybrid (invented) words like Abondonner (Abandonner+Abondant/ abandonment + abundance) express for me the complex rupture from the Caribbean Island of my childhood.

Each plate designates a letter and a series of associative words in the language of ‘home’. Regional or national iconographies and crests establish a secondary ground for the plates As a tertiary (yet dominant element) are images taken from the personal collected images of a family album. The ABCs hint at the allegiances or fidelity to social ideas and the atmosphere of each lived place without the over elaboration.

Having collected ‘other peoples’ family pictures and used them in incidental works or sketches-perhaps for the inherent strength of their anonymity, it seemed fitting to take a moment to look at self portraiture.

It is the first time that I have undertook direct autobiography in my artworks though it speaks for a larger community of people who have experienced aspects of a similar shift in living situations, languages and territories. The ABCdaire is a term taken from a popular book series on many subjects of cultural/social knowledge from the well known French publishing house Flammarion.

It is perhaps up to the viewer to determine for themselves how much is being divulged or if this ultimately revealing. My aim is perhaps to share not my life but an experience unraveled but not rationalized.

  1. Abcdaire series from Flammarion Publishers, France
  2. Abecedarium an inscription consisting of the letters of an alphabet
  3. An important point of view by the author Fabian Charles on the use, by Haitians, of the french language
  4. flash cards published during the 1970s by the Society for Visual Education in Chicago. (source: Pinterest)