My Dear Leona is a three projection video which narrates a group of 27 letters addressed to my great great aunt between 1907 and 1938, a woman I never met. Written by people from all over the country, these letters bring tender insight into the history of small places surfaced from oblivion. As each letter is read aloud by me these long vanished landscapes begin to permeate the air. They permeate my air. Soon enough I know that although I have never read a letter written by Leona herself, I know her by the details of how she is written to. Like much of history, how we are remembered is rarely made by our own pen - it is rather in the descriptions of others.
The visual narratives are the aftermath of living with these letters in my life. Often I expound upon some enchanting, unassuming detail, a corset fitting or a piano lesson, magnifying it from inside my own diminutive world. Occasionally the same location is mirrored, as in the Badlands or Bok Tower in Florida. My homeland of Florida is in fact reflected throughout, as I become each character, and their travels become my own. In one astonishing letter, I return to the exact Miami address the letter was written to in 1927, only to find an empty lot surrounded by high rises.
The first, middle and last letters to leona are written by myself, bringing the total number of letters to thirty, my age while making this video. These narratives stand in contrast to the other twenty-seven in another way. They are in black and white. The reason is noted in my opening letter, which ends by saying,
"who knew leona,
that there would prove to be more life,
more bewitching color in this small pile of letters
as to render even my castles gray?"
* Intended to be shown on three projectors or televisions simultaneously. If viewing the single screen review copy DVD, keep in mind that any inconsistency between the three borders will not be visible when viewed on three separate monitors.