The Van Patten House, a longstanding architectural icon of downtown Iowa City, burned down in the fall of 2011 consuming all of my possessions and entire body of work. “Residue” is a site specific performance that examines my autobiographical experience and the effect of architecture and space on our psyche. The eight-hour performance took place in the vacant lot where my home use to stand and the only audience members were passersby.
“Residue” began as I filled the space with sheets of handmade abaca paper. I chose to use abaca for its strength, translucency and sound. The sheets emitted a low constant crackle as I began to take rubbings of the objects that were left in the space. I recorded the residue of what was left of the historic structure, my belongings, and what had been carelessly tossed over the chain link fence. After many hours I had compiled what was effectively a grave rubbing of the entire footprint of the house.
After completing the rubbings I began to clean the vacant lot. I sorted the trash and recycling, pulled weeds and piled bricks. My movements were methodical, meditative and ritualistic. I felt the need to attempt to heal the space, to bring it back from invisibility and neglect, and to be with its pain, as well as my own. The detritus that was collected was eventually transformed into handmade paper and used in subsequent performances and artworks.