A quartet of bound transcripts and trio of chairs. Bookboard, paper, ink, white oak, 2012.
I began this project wondering whether it was possible to write a portrait of a place via portraits of its residents. That original question morphed over the course of a year into a more appropriately intimate wondering: What is radical listening and how can we practice it for and with each other?
The result was a tentative definition and ethos of practice that took final shape as three bound and extravagently annotated transcripts, an index volume compiling and collating the transcripts' collective marginalia, and a trio of chairs that both represent the physical bodies between whom the defining conversations took place, and invite the public into those conversations.
The project began in three one-on-one conversations between strangers and was cared for through the academic practices of research, annotation, and citation. The books return the project to the human scale.
Unexpectedly, my interest in listening to others took me away from in-person interactions and into the quietude of the library. The resulting marginalia (anecdotal accounts, lists, statistics, historical research, etc), however, are not intellectually impartial: they reflect my personal history, interests, and curiosities. Thus, the resulting index is both a self-portrait and a portrait of the persons with whom I spoke. But these two types of portraits, I experienced a profound kind of fraternity.
The world does not need more evidence of disconnect.