“Biography of a Portrait” is the unrelenting story I tell myself about who I am and where I belong, not necessarily based in reality. This project combines online and desktop signifiers to navigate three concepts —“Today”, “Tomorrow”, and “Yesterday”— ideally viewed on a phone. The website is an introspective experiment I made in quarantine where I considered digital forms of representation, segments of time, and processes of loss as a way of deconstructing virtual identity — an appropriated understanding I have of myself. “Yesterday” contains a series of video shorts representing the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, pain, and acceptance. “Tomorrow” brazenly self-promotes while remaining shielded behind a materialized screen. A delayed, monochromatic image shadows the viewer in a live-streamed “Today”. The intention for these works was to create an aesthetic experience accessible online in response to pandemic culture. I divorced my ex-husband, who I was living with during the lock-down, and came out as a late-in-life lesbian since making this work. Retrospectively, I have a new understanding of the piece being about feeling psychologically and physically trapped in a house that I had no legal rights to, in an abusive marriage where I lost myself in my husband’s identity, and in a life determined by heteronormative expectations that conflicted with my internal truth — inaccessible at the time as I did my best to survive the circumstances. Parts of his house were damaged during the production of this work.
Note: No personal information is collected during this experience, all decisions are purely aesthetic and support the execution of the concept.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jennifer Traina-Dorge (b.1985, New Orleans) combines architecture and performance to investigate the politics of space through site-specific installation and object-making. They received an MFA in Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BArch from Cornell University. Jen currently lives and works in Chicago.
© Jennifer Traina-Dorge