Stephanie Chiasson

My thesis project is to re-recreate intimate family dynamics, by showing the separation between what picture perfect images project to the world, and what is really happening in a family. As we have all experienced, there is a private side to families and a public persona. I’ve built a 9ft by 8ft living room space that includes furniture and personal family portraits on the wall; revealing the family and creating an impression of who they are. My vision for the set came from my mother, who was born in the late 60’s, and her family. I was able to pull some archival photographs from the family album. This adds accuracy to the living room that I have staged and creates an authentic personal atmosphere. I’d like the audience to be able to walk through the set and notice the layers of complexities of family life and experience some examples of family tension. Through the window is an outdoor space. By using a projected video that features a person driving up to the house, I have set the stage to overhear a recorded argument that happens inside the family walls that, isn’t supposed to be overheard. The audio recordings from the speakers in the wall and controlled lighting create a vivid emotional experience. For some viewers it may be reminiscent of their own family disputes or maybe witnessing an argument in public that you shouldn’t really be privy too. I hope to present the aura of a family as they try to hide from outsiders what they are actually experiencing.

My intention is to show how people cover up their home troubles. In reality all families are messy and complicated at times. Marriage, raising children, living and growing together as a family has its up’s and down’s. Nothing is picture perfect. I’m pulling from personal aspects of my own life, and how family secrets and lies have led to the the recent drama in my own family. Poor communication, within my mother’s family, has led to cracks in the foundation that have not been healthy. Like most homes in the 70’ and 80’, what was going on inside did not necessarily coincide with the outside appearances. Things were hidden from the outside world. The image externally had white picket fences with meticulously groomed lawns. However, behind the beautiful doors were real families, that loved, struggled, fought, potentially made up and with time hopefully moved forward. In a way, the dichotomy between what happened inside the house and what was projected outside was like the first Instagram or Snapchat. I’m hoping to show that we continue to create these false selves, like the perfect family photo, in hopes that people will only see only what we want them to see. When does the deception really start and where does it end, is the question I am hoping to ask the viewer.  

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