Finding Things I Don’t Want To Find, HD video, color, sound, 58 min, 2017
Based on six years of documentary fieldwork, Finding Things I Don’t Want To Find traces material and spectral encounters around a small historic museum of Native American and settler history located in Southern California. An obscure national historic landmark, the museum is also a social hub where a medley of things ranging from artifacts to discarded goods are exchanged. Now add to this scenario two voracious collectors able to find history in the “most worthless trash.” One tinkers in the yard: the museum’s caretaker, who invests each object with a new sense of purpose. The other one looks down from the wall: the museum’s namesake, a largely forgotten Victorian historian, who acts as both the caretaker’s model and nemesis. My own persona, as a filmmaker collecting material to craft a story, puts the two in conversation. Finding Things I Don’t Want To Find takes its cue from the museum’s unorthodox archive and observes how history is made, represented, and lived within this environment. By following the site’s caretaker as he attends to his chores and peculiar collections, the film unravels how eccentric practices and objects destabilize the museum’s official narrative.