A Life Dedicated to Research in Sub-Saharan Africa (disintegration)

Handmade paper, digitally printed fabric, mixed media, audio recording, 2014-15

Diana’s installation is about transition, from life to death, of her father Carl Eicher, an agricultural economist, specializing in Sub-Saharan Africa. The first feature is a bird’s eye view in handmade paper of a landmass for growing food. The bird’s eye also encapsulates the macro picture, that of an expert, her father, thinking about the issues of growing food in an expansive region. The second feature is an enclosed structure whose “curtains” are pages of her father’s professional resume that are digitally printed on silk.

My interpretation assumes that we are part of a funerary procession for Carl Eicher; his casket on a bier is ahead of us. As we sit on a chair inside the structure created by panels of silk, we become the chief mourner in the palanquin behind the bier.

We reflect on the accomplishments of the scholar, Carl Eicher, his curriculum vitae printed and presented, not on paper, but gossamer sheets. His life work is reanimated in the movement inherent in the silk.

We meditate on the man, the father, on the cusp of death. Our grief is shielded from the public by the diaphanous panels. We strain to hear his words as he speaks, a recording coming from under the chair, ordinary words between Diana, her failing father, and the caregiver.  As mourners we are invited to wonder how much we know about the man as a professional and how much we know about the man as a father. We are invited to reflect a life from both a public and private perspective.

Diana’s poignant installation brings matter to memory, to make concrete in silk and paper of Carl Eicher’s life.

This installation was exhibited at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2015 and at the White Bear Center for the Arts in 2016 as part of the group exhibition by the artist’s group, SD8.