B R I A N   G I L L I S
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Of Ghosts and Speculation
2012

Nickel Plated SLS Printed Nylon (From 3D Scan of 19th Century African American Face Jug from Edgefield, South Carolina), Hand-bound Archival Book of All the Known Scholarship About African American Face Jugs, Pottery Shard (19th Century Alkaline-glazed Stoneware from Edgefield, South Carolina), Magnifying Loupe, Magnifying Dome, External Hard Drive and USB Flash Drives Storing All the Known Scholarship About African American Face Jugs, Miscellaneous Hardware, Rubber and Neoprene Sheeting, and Archival Laser Cut, Linen Covered Board Boxes.
40” x 20” x 72”


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Alkaline-glazed, stoneware jugs with crudely modeled faces on them were made in Edgefield, South Carolina by African American people from 1858-1875. Very few of these jugs are in existence today, and no one can say conclusively why they were made. Of Ghosts and Speculation uses the occasion of the first major exhibition of historic face jugs as a point of departure to celebrate and monumentalize the face jug while catalyzing future investigation of these extremely rare, enigmatic, culturally significant forms. This project was designed to serve as a public archive that exists as a hybridization of a time capsule, black box flight recorder, and a seed bank; such that stores all the known scholarship about face jugs in both digital and analog forms, while also being a repository for new information as it is developed. Of Ghosts and Speculation was formally accessioned along with an historic face jug by the Chipstone Foundation (chipstone.org) through whom institutional protocols were put in place to allow for the addition of new knowledge, data, images, and observations relative to the origin and identity of face jugs. This archive is in place as somewhat of a foil, tribute, and living annotation to the historic African American face jug.

Along with this archive, a program called Object Mine was developed with the Chipstone Foundation (chipstone.org) in which recorded interviews of everyday people speaking about their own origin, identity, and relationship to a personal object is archived in Of Ghosts and Speculation. This too is designed to elicit reverence for these face jugs by engaging a community to value its own origin and identity through a greater intimacy with things present in their lives and the scholarship surrounding objects, an awareness of the value of history as both definite and speculative, and permanently archiving a first-person account of one’s own origin and identity, the very thing we have no conclusive answer for in the case of these historic face jugs.

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