A complex installation of furniture, slide projections and voice recordings, Feeding the Ghost continues Geyer’s investigation into the inextricable links between art and politics, past and present. Specifically, it reflects on the integral relations of the personal and the political within an artist’s work. Based on a live performance lecture Geyer gave at the Dia Art Foundation in September 2018, Feeding the Ghost takes its lead from a work by the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman titled A Family in Brussels. Akerman, who was born in Brussels in 1950 to Polish Holocaust survivors, is renowned for her significant contributions to avant-garde art and feminist filmmaking and was influential to Geyer as a young artist. A Family in Brussels is a one hour reading by Akerman that Geyer experienced live at the Dia Art Foundation in October 2001. Observing the life of a woman during the time her husband is dying - it is Akerman’s mother’s story that inevitably involves the artist - the piece shares similarities with her seminal work Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). Feeding the Ghost observes Akerman doing the reading, in which she works through her feeling of the loss of her father and weaves the experience of her family into the larger histories of erasures in Europe. Geyer, in turn, addresses her own experience of loss: on the one hand that of elder artists, but also that of a post 9/11 New York. She combines Akerman’s story with her own viewing of it, weaving together their respective autobiographical details. Other sources that Geyer uses are Akerman’s writings, proposals and interviews. The resulting text evokes a striking intimacy, constantly shifting subject position from Geyer to Akerman, layering the predecessor over the present artist—and in turn reviving the often-repressed histories addressed in both their work. In Feeding the Ghost, presence and absence exist side by side in the liminal space between the personal and the political, between past and present. “You cannot un-invite the ghosts,” Geyer reminds us, and proposes art as a site where they can co-exist.
On this day, developed during a Rauschenberg Residency in the summer of 2018, offers a different form of storytelling in which both artist and viewers are called out as protagonists. Responding directly to the current political climate, this work materializes how (violent) histories resonate in our contemporary bodies. Driven by Geyer’s upbringing in Germany, this work reflects on the role of the “bystander,” informed by history in the current volatile and precarious times. Geyer layers news imagery and text in silver iridescent and white paints on rag paper. The resulting works – large and flag-like - curve towards the viewer in a gentle, yet persistent fashion, proposing an inevitable proximity of the receding yet present image to a viewing body. Geyer asks us to envision multiple moments in time and a viewer’s relationship to it. To by-stand, to view art, to witness, are all put forward as related actions, as possibly parallel, as lastingly impactful.
Across both bodies of work, the patterns that emerge are haunting: “Repetition bloodshed, repetition silence.” By centering unsung histories in their perpetuation and pointing to processes of active concealment in the present, Geyer urges viewers to look and to listen again, reminding us of our own agency and capacity to break through any questionable silence.