Where There’s Smoke
All families have secrets. Skeletons hidden in closets. Things left unsaid.
In Where There’s Smoke, curator Lance Weiler unravels the secrets of his enigmatic father — a volunteer firefighter and amateur fire scene photographer — and two devastating fires that struck the Weiler family in the early 1980s. In the final months of his battle with colon cancer, his father invites Lance to interview him, and these conversations reignite 30 years of wondering… were those fires more than tragic accidents?
Prepared to come face-to-face with mysteries of the past, Lance sits down with his father and finds himself simultaneously confronting tragedies of the present. As his father’s choices fade with his body, Lance and his family experience a profound lack of empathy in his care, and this sparks a new question: “What if this story can do more?” Out of a heartbreaking journey for answers and healing rises Where There’s Smoke.
Where There’s Smoke is an immersive exhibition about life, loss, and memory that reveals itself to be both deeply personal and universally resonant. The exhibition employs elements of immersive theatre, interactive documentary, and emergent technology that guides people through a deconstructed, abstracted exploration of his father’s life, offering interactive prompts along the way. Where There’s Smoke as a project had its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and has been reimagined for ArtYard by Weiler and producer Peter English. Where There’s Smoke is on view June 17 to Oct. 1, 2023 and is paired with live performance in ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater.
“In 1983 our van burst into flames on a family vacation. Eleven months later our house would burn to the ground. As I explore my past I find mysterious connections to these blazes and come face to face with a closet full of skeletons. Inspired by true events in my life, Where There’s Smoke details the connections between two mysterious fires and my father’s battle with cancer.” – Lance Weiler