“The Vesper Project” is the culmination of New York City-based Titus Kaphar’s intensive engagement with the imaginary history of the Vespers, a 19th-century New England family who were able to “pass” as Caucasian despite the fact that their mixed heritage made them black in the eyes of the law. Linking the artist to this family is Benjamin Vesper, a mentally troubled man who—inspired by one of Kaphar’s works—reaches out to the artist for help in reconstructing his family’s history. The resulting project interrogates notions of identity, memory, and social constructs.
A compelling art installation and imposing sculptural statement, “The Vesper Project” features the remains of an abandoned Connecticut home into which the artist has incorporated his own work. Through slashing, silhouetting, and whitewashing, Kaphar creates a complex map that compresses time and elides personal histories. The artist’s most ambitious project to date, “The Vesper Project” features period architecture, gilt frames, a vintage typewriter, a neglected wardrobe, and old photographs, which, in the context of the artist’s intervention, disrupt perception and reality and postulate powerful new realities.