In 2008, Vesper wandered off the hospital grounds, and was found squatting in a 19th century house that he insisted belonged to his family. In fact, the original Vesper home had burned down in the early 1900s. It seems Mr. Vesper needed such a space to return to, in order to engage with his own memory. It was this event that inspired “The Vesper Project” installation at Friedman Benda gallery.
This exhibition includes art works inspired by the patient’s frequent correspondence with Kaphar.
360° Vesper Panorama Tour
In Collaboration With Sam Rohn
View the 360° Panoramic Virtual Tour of Titus Kaphar‘s Vesper Project at Friedman Benda Gallery in New York City. This panoramic tour was photographed by our friend Sam Rohn. An amazing piece of work we recommend you experience for yourself.
A 19th century family who are able to “pass” as a white family in New England although their mixed heritage makes them “Negro” in the eyes of the law.
But before their engagement is finalized, Vesper’s daughter becomes pregnant, extinguishing any hope of a financial merger. As their public image unravels, the Vesper family’s racial secret is also made public. What follows is a predictable downward spiral of violence that destroys everything Vesper had accomplished in hopes of immortalizing his family name.
The Vesper Project Film
Film Cinematography By Horacio Marquinez
The Vesper Family Tree
Kwamena Blankson – Writer
When I started this project, I knew that I wanted to somehow record these narratives that kept running through my head. I had a long conversation with a mental health advocate and fiction writer named Kwamena Blankson. Kwamena spends most of his days in a mental hospital, advocating on behalf of patients. In our conversations, we discovered that we both “heard” the voices of characters in similar ways – me with the people in my paintings, Kwamena with the characters in his writing. I told him about the Vespers, and that conversation was the birth of the project. We would talk over the phone, and I would tell him what I had heard, and sometime later, he would transform these conversations into written narratives and poems. The Vesper Project includes many pieces of writing – after the masterful editing of Stella Maria Baer, we’ve attempted to tell the story of this family’s life through seven documents. Ultimately, I think this will be a book, where we will include more documents and spend more time with the historical nuances in the narrative.
Stella Maria Baer – Editor and Studio Assistant
Rick Lacey – Studio Assistant
Horacio Marquinez – Film Cinematography
Luke Hanscom – Photography
Mena Henry – Project managing and architectural assistance
Seth Reese – Wrote and performed music for the film
Phyllis Anscombe – Read poetry in the film
I would also like to thank all the folks at Friedman Benda.