Harvey, Cheyenne Sierra
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On July 27th 2014 my family home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with two other houses on my block, burned down. On this day our family home of 20 years was transformed into something antithetical to my idea of “home.” Most of what we once had was melted, scorched, disintegrated, imbued with smoke, or reduced to ash. What had been a container for my things and the architecture of my memories had all changed in the matter of hours, and I was forced to re-create my sense of place elsewhere. “Conflagration” is a video installation that demonstrates the discordant nature of my experience of place-making since the event. Found furniture and personal objects of mine, collected after the night of the fire, are arranged to act as an allusion to domestic space. The personal objects connect the work to my own sense of place without acting as a didactic force; they reference my story without overpowering the space or rendering it inaccessible. The domesticity of the space allows anyone to enter with a sense of comfort and near familiarity and the video disrupts this stasis. It loops to create a back and forth between extremes of ease and distress; comfort and discomfort; calm and panic; conflagration and pacification. The power of this piece lies in the inviting/repulsive nature; a Gestalt of attraction and abjection. My interest is not only in reflecting upon and expressing this part of my experience of rebuilding and recovery, but also to challenge the viewer to imagine the many dimensions of and planes between tranquility and chaos.