Those We Know, and Those Whose Lives We Glimpse Through the Cracks
Wood, photo, fabric, found objects, tea, cookies
In the early 70s, Rose Stone was an old lady who lived alone in a little house on the edge of my Grandmother’s land north of Montreal, Quebec. Recently I learned she was a respected furniture maker who at one point lived in her own house on her partner’s land. Her partner was “surely a lesbian, very masculine with a reputation of being difficult.” The story goes that they had a row, so my great-grandmother gave Rose a bit of land and they literally dragged her house up the hill to put it there. When my cousins and I were young, we stumbled upon her house and she fed us tea and biscuits. My young grandmother, photographed in male drag in 1928, gazes in through the window. My grandmother was married to a man I only met once, who spiraled into mental breakdown. She divorced him before I was born and never had another relationship that I know of. Granny was an intensely private British lady but was very close with her brother-in-law Ross Patton, a weirdly wonderful eccentric & alcoholic great uncle who sometimes lived with us during the summers. Long after he died, I finally learned he was queer. In the 70s my cousins and I stole his copy of the Pearl, an anthology of satirical Victorian-era pornography featuring incest, pedophilia and flagellation. He used to mail me presents of warm socks and strange brands of toothpaste.
After my schizophrenic grandfather died, my aunt read his journals. He wrote, “I am NOT a homosexual.”
Have some ancestor stories and half-stories of your own? Please write them down and tuck them into the house. We will have a group reading of these stories at the end of the week.
Zeph Fishlyn works as a visual artist and cultural organizer, with deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area’s queer, activist and punk/D.I.Y. communities. Zeph dreams up fantastical, hybrid or impossible situations and characters to tell alternative stories—mostly via drawings and installation. Zeph has also spent years fighting for real-world change with social movements struggling for economic justice, anti-imperialism and queer liberation. When all these strands overlap, collaborative radical stories come to life in the form of political graphics and films, street theater, and creative intervention.