Cecilia Cornejo, Instructor in Cinema and Media Studies
The Wandering House is a mobile audio-recording studio, fashioned out of a retrofitted ice fishing house, that collected Northfielders’ oral testimonies during the summer and fall of 2019. Under the guidance of Professor Cecilia Cornejo, local community members were asked to share their ideas and ideals of home and how immigration, and the influx of people perceived as different, have affected these notions. Participants were also invited to share their own family stories of immigration.
Professor Cornejo and her student researchers, Sergio Demara ’20 and Arya Misra ’22, spent the summer collecting these oral testimonies. They brought The Wandering House to a variety of locations during the summer to capture diverse voices. Over 29 days in the summer, they collected 225 recordings (some of which feature more than one participant) totaling nearly 40 hours of audio recording. Professor Cornejo has just begun to delve into this wealth of material and is working with Misra and Cecilia Kryzda ’20, to transcribe the audio.
The project’s objective is twofold: first, to collect oral testimonies from Northfield residents on notions of home and immigration; and second, to create a video installation that combines the testimonies with an image track comprised of long takes from in and around Northfield.
The final montage will offer the community a unique way to reflect on timely issues — such as migration and displacement triggered by war, political unrest, and climate change — by witnessing what a place like Northfield looks and sounds like, in all its richness and contradiction.
By transforming potential spectators into active contributors, The Wandering House is generating thoughtful work that relies entirely on public participation for its success. This spirited approach to public engagement — one that involves direct interaction between locals and the artist, an immigrant woman of color — encourages the community as a whole to reflect and reconsider their pre-existing conceptualizations of home, offering a much-needed counter-narrative to prevailing and official histories.