An empty swimming pool is stenciled with rows of dirt that replicate the stripes of the American flag. We see an aerial view, and then a close shot as a dancer moves along the lines, pushing and dragging the earth with his feet. A second figure sweeps along another row, using long bristles to inscribe circles in the dirt. Drawing with their bodies, the pair reconfigure and shape this symbol of America, blurring the straight lines and creating something new.
“We share similar ancestral grounds,” Ariel says. “We have made a habit of using studio visits and visualizing what we’ve been researching,” they explain. The project involves recordings of interviews with the grandmothers of both artists, who happened to have attended Hampton University within a few years of one another. One went on to become a nurse, and the other an educator. “They were in school during the time of segregation,” says Ariel. “Hampton University is a pretty important HBCU, it’s well recognized,” Michael elaborates. He says, “We’ve known each other for at least five years, [and] we interviewed our grandmothers separately.” Ariel says, “I lived in New York for seven years, and I was right next to the hospital” where their grandmother did her internship. Thus far, the project has been full of small echoes like this one, helping the artists shape the project as they go.