Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

Dead Dead but not Gone Gone


Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Department of Fine Arts

Using first hand narrative accounts of Afro-Nordic individuals in congress with moving images articulating grief and mourning practices, the (Re)Memory Archive will culminate in a video collage essay. The project seeks to provide frameworks for the contemplation of history by drawing upon narratives of grief. The narratives that contemplate history will center on Afro-Nordics’ personal testimonies on grief and grieving practices. The video collage essay will use new recordings of testimonial memory to interrogate history; both History (a written past to be studied for scientific purposes) and history (an oral past which carries implications for the present and future).


I am interested in how Indigenous and African diasporic grieving practices defy the concept of Western time as a linear versus cyclical structure. The title “Dead Dead but not Gone Gone” uses the double repetition device of symploce as an invitation to contemplate how someone or something can be deceased or departed but still conscious. Collective grieving practices are omnipresent in global Indigenous and African diasporic societies. These practices often serve as a confrontation towards ahistoricism by prioritizing the collective voice of a community eschewing modern Western philosophies on grief.


As an artistic question, I am interested in how the medium of video reconciles, or perhaps, agitates the integrity of the narrators’ testimonies. How could the editorial and then the collage-like process of video amplify or dismantle the unspoken alignment of African diasporic grief? The resulting video could serve as a provocation to Western temporality and an inquiry into how grief moves communities and society. 

Research interest: 

a.    How does collective grief function as a specter of history? What role does grief have in historical protest? How do collective grieving practices challenge the concept of temporality? If collective grief is the alignment between witnesses, what does that alignment mean? How can the medium of video be used as a tool around the aesthetics of grief and temporality? What is the ethical value of public testimony?

Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor's roots are in the Southern United States, born in Mississippi and bred in Florida on former Timucan land. Her practice consists of a research-based meeting of dialogue, storytelling, archival resurrection, video and and begins with locally-rooted social work. She has a background in experimental theater with a BFA from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds an MA in Black British Literature from Goldsmiths University in London. Taylor is currently a PhD artistic research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts where she is researching how collective grief practices function as a specter of history, video as a tool for the aesthetics of death and mourning and the ethical value of public testimony.

Field of studyVisual Arts: Audio Visual, Video, Film