LESLIE BERNS
BOOKMARKS for a MIXED RACE NARRATIVE: Who Could and Couldn't Marry Whom (Fluidity) - detail

2015
cut paper, collage, foam core
22" x 30"
(Portraits Courtesy of Harry H. Laughlin Collection, Special Collections Department, Pickler Memorial Library, Truman State University)


Portraits and text from a document titled "Anti-Miscegenation Laws of the Several States: 1932" are recontextualized and graphically displayed as 'bookmarks'. 'Bookmarks' references the increasingly significant role of reading/research in my practice and in the 'writing' of a personal narrative within a social, historical context.

Each 'bookmark' in the bottom row corresponds with the portrait above and lists the states where it was illegal for ‘negro’, ‘mulatto’, ‘quadroon’, etc. to marry ‘caucasian’. The checkerboard pattern shifts, flows and undulates back and forth across a ‘color line’. Every other bookmark is mounted on ¼” foam core resulting in an uneven surface.
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