A Performance by the Deceased // Dir Patrick Shen
I’ve been going to estate sales ever since my wife first talked me into going to one several years ago. From vintage mics to old 35mm slides and typewriters, I’ve found some pretty great things at estate sales. But what I find most intriguing is the story they tell about the recently deceased and the way it makes me consider the story my stuff tells about me. Mugs emblazoned with clever expressions and bank logos, Sinatra records, high school year books – everything is a memento mori, reminding me of my own presence in the world as I peruse the belongings of someone who is no longer present. The experience offers something akin to what philosopher Roland Barthes said of photography: “an immediate presence to the world — a co-presence.” At a recent estate sale I encountered a beautiful 1960s organ. I wondered who played the organ and I imagined the sounds of it filling the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon. As I made my way to the master bedroom I spotted an old Radio Shack cassette recorder on the floor with a cassette still loaded and was charmed by what I heard upon playing it back.