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andrea geyer

Feeding the Ghosts. 2019. Installation with slide projectors, empty slide frames, books, projector stands, speakers, two tables with lamps, library chairs, Teapot with cup, coffee table, sandbags, 60 minute audio voiceover

In the center of the gallery, slide projectors and speakers sit on projector stands and stacks of books relevant to Geyer’s research for this work. In between stand two tables with lamps and chairs, as well as a set of library chairs, inviting viewers to sit down. The projectors, directed outward, cast blank frames of light onto the walls surrounding the installation, each showing a different hue of light corresponding to the age of the projector’s lamp. Some of the projectors are set on timers that regulate the movement of the empty slide carousels; other projectors remain stagnant. A sixty-minute, looped voice-over by the artist emanates from speakers throughout the space.

The text of the voice-over takes its lead from A Family in Brussels, a work by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. Akerman, who was born in Brussels in 1950 to Polish Holocaust survivors, is renowned for her significant contributions to avant-garde art and feminist filmmaking, which were influential to Geyer when she was a young artist. A Family in Brussels is a one-hour reading by Akerman that Geyer attended at Dia Art Foundation in October 2001. In this work, which shares similarities with Akerman’s seminal Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) in its autobiographical references (the narrator of Family in Brussels resembles Akerman’s mother), a woman describes the time of her husband’s death. For Feeding the Ghosts, Geyer recalled how, in Family in Brussels, Akerman worked through the personal loss of her father as well as the longterm effect of the Holocaust on her family. Geyer, in turn, reflects on her own experience of both personal loss and the direct effects of a treacherous political climate, considering such moments as the death of Akerman in 2015, the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (the time of Akerman’s reading), and the vexed context of the Trump administration. Geyer thus merges her own story with her mentor’s, intertwining their respective autobiographical details until the intersections blur.

The subject position of the text, whose sources include multiple interviews with Akerman and various of Akerman’s project proposals, constantly shifts from the filmmaker to Geyer, layering the predecessor over the present artist and reviving the often repressed histories addressed by each. In Feeding the Ghosts, presence and absence exist side by side in the liminal space between the personal and the political and between past and present. “You cannot uninvite the ghosts,” Geyer reminds us, proposing art as a site of coexistence.