In 2012 Robert Hickerson collaborated with his parents on a series of performances and installations which reevaluated their relationship as a family. Hickerson’s parents had been divorced for several years prior and had not spoken to one another. Starting with These are My Parents, they came together to produce work which materialized how they each dealt with the dissolution and reconfiguration of their family. Debasement Triptych (which has These Are My Parents at its center) is the final product of this collaboration. Hickerson uses the cinematic to convey these performances, creating a dynamic portrait of his parents’ relationship. With its center panel, Debasement Triptych shows the first interaction between his parents, six years following their divorce. Hickerson asked his parents to complete a puzzle, having tied them to each other using a spandex harness. On each side sits a durational portrait, performed in public, materializing the experience his parents felt creating these collaborative works.
Debasement Triptych continues Hickerson’s development of materializing interpersonal relationships into physical tasks and restraints. By translating how one is connected to another into how one is physically attached to another, Hickerson’s work allows for the evaluation of these relationships from an objective point of view.
Debasement Triptych, video, 5 min 48secs. Robert Hickerson, 2012.