In order to examine and question the nature of autobiography and identity, I have created an alter ego “Ilene,” who generates her autobiography through the use of storytelling. The videos are an anthropological study of southern identity and culture. The stories, which are not always flattering, are nonfiction in nature and create commentary pertaining to the diverse personalities of my family members, our relationships, class, and belief systems. Ilene uses the video camera as a visual diary to document her life and family with honesty, humor, affection and reflection.
Ilene is a combination of my southern heritage, the southern stereotype, and my own identity. She is the transmitter and the receiver. She observes and is being observed. She represents both where I am from and where I am at now. She allows me to reconcile the two contradictory worlds that I live in. I have always felt self-conscious about my accent and where I grew up. Although, the southern stereotype is characterized by such things, as southern hospitality and warmth, it also carries negative connotations such as ignorance and intolerance. Through Ilene, I have come to understand and finally appreciate and embrace a heritage that for so long I wanted to change.