LINDA DUVALL Visual and Media Artist








Related Activities



Tea & Gossip 2003

My work addresses ethically complex circumstances. I am especially interested in situations that have emerged because of recent scientific discoveries, particularly innovative approaches to procreation, issues around genetic relationships, and resulting complex family configurations. These situations are especially engaging because of the thorny ethical issues that emerge. Institutions like churches, legal courts, and extended family structures that traditionally provided moral guidance are themselves in the process of ascertaining clear positions. Subsequently, such circumstances provide fertile subject matter for the explorations that occur during a gossip session. For example, such conversations enable us to clarify assumptions around the definition of fatherhood when, as a sperm donor, the biological father's identity is protected.

This project provides a forum in which individuals may thoughtfully explore their assumptions around a given ethically complicated situation. Gossip sessions allow groups of individuals to hear a range of presuppositions, logical arguments, biased opinions, and attitudes that they would never have considered on their own. The act of gossiping provides a crucial role in the exploration of a broad range of opposing positions. From a gossip session, the expressed opinions may significantly affect one's moral understanding and challenge previous assumptions, or may reinforce already hardened opinions. While gossip is usually seen in a derogatory light, it allows individuals to weigh the possible motives for behavior that is troubling, surprising, offensive, or incomprehensible.

This project consists of three related video apes, 300+ related clips engraved on small plastic cards, tea, and gossip. In this project, I provide a safe environment for gossip, by providing all the necessary elements for the gossip session - a cast of characters, a representation of the precipitating event, the diverse attitudes, and an environment in which participants may actively respond to the different opinions. An essential element of this project is my presence in the gallery space, as available gossiper. In my absence, blank cards are available for visitors’ responses to the situation.