There used to be an article here, I wrote it in 2017 after I found the Mabel Fitzwater collection in a dumpster. It was a poetic article attempting a strange feat, to eulogize someone I didn’t know. Mabel seemed like a remarkable person, or “colorful” as a family member told me. I wrote an article that explained her history and frankly it was genealogy based conjecture. So like all great Archeologists, entertaining the Public with stories about people they don’t really know, I made up a story based on available information
The article that used to be here was also the template for everything I would do later. It was poetry, genealogy, history, storytelling and dumpster diving all at once. I wanted to capture a certain feeling and tell a great tale. What I produced was Art, a living story, or a multi-dimensional rabbithole as I call it. When the family of Mabel found me, they added a dimension to this living story, true history. They were very nice about it, but told me the article had to come down. It bore the marks of offensive content.
The life of Mabel Fiztwater was a rich tapestry, like a Shakespearean play, and I did my usual deep cultural dive into the collective information spaces we all share, finding a lot on her Family and her small imprint. Some of the science of Dumpster Archeology was right on the button, an accurate look, some of it is just narrative, and some was plain wrong. I wasn’t totally right about Mabel and in places it seemed a bit insensitive. An imprint of Mabel exists in the legend of this Project too large to remove, the Article but disappeared but not her spirit.
The story of Mabel is now just a collection of items, photos and I’m okay with that. This is the nature of Holistic History, where larger narratives seldom stay lost.
Storytelling is a living thing, it changes with the crowd. When “the audience” (family) come to learn about the Project’s focus, things change as the Living Relatives of the Project have an opinion. The truth is the vast majority of family members who discover the project, loath the work that is being done. Dumpster Archeology is digging up the graves and photographing the skulls of a person that has ancestors, yet it is Art/Archeology and Artists/Archeologists rarely apologize for being wrong or going to far.
There used to be an article here and now it is history, a story once told, but now a ghost The complex nature of Art requires that one should have an absolute truth within one’s ART. The Truth is, I chose the word “Archeology” very carefully, ignoring the academic “a” in archaeology, as treasure hunters were represented most often in the early form of the word. Museums flooded with the work of scientists who called themselves Archeologist, stealing from sacred temples and grave-sites. Archeology has a dark past.
Where is the line, the balance between Science recording human history, and the exploitation/destruction of People’s Sacred Spaces? When should you tell a story and when must it absolutely not be told? I decided to take down the article because that line, that balance beam tipped too deeply into conjecture, into a version of a woman that only existed in my own head. There were beautiful words, and poetic aspects, but Mabel was not the Queen of Dogtown and I am not an Archeologist.
If we choose to look at this like an archaeology dig. If we peer deeply within the ground to see the skeletons and wonder about the shape of those who once roamed but lose our Humanity, Goodwill and Revenence, then what was the point? This is the essence of Dumpster Archeology, you got it, the beating heart is floating above our heads. It’s right there in the words, in the impermanence, in the storytelling potential and with a woman named Mabel Fiztwater, who really lived and left her own imprint of human history.
I wrote a honest article with nothing but good intentions and a hopeful attempt to honor someone I didn’t know. That’s the Art, and I move to find new ways of telling new stories.
When one lays out Mabel’s things it feels like stepping into a museum. An archaeological dig that attempts to tell a story through each item, here are some signifying aspects.
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