From November 2017-January 2018, Tatum completed an artist residency with the Leipzig International Artist Programme (LIA) in Leipzig, Germany. While in Germany, he visited the Albertinum Museum in Dresden and viewed several displays of broken objects from classical, public sculptures. Tatum was intrigued with these objects and how they were being displayed in glass cases. The objects were transformed, taken out of their original context and given a new meaning because of their physical lifespan and the history of their movement from one location to the next. He liked this idea of replacing objects and monitoring their lifespan to generate meaning and cultural memory. Tatum wanted to continue this idea through his own sculptural works by matching the format of broken, displaced objects with a narrative for contract workers which he discovered during his time in Germany.
Tatum discovered that during GDR times, many contract workers from Cuba were brought to Leipzig to fulfill temporary work placements within factories and other industries. These Cuban contract workers were brought to Germany as part of a trade agreement between GRD Germany and Cuba. This agreement assigned Cuban contract workers to live and work in Germany for fixed salaries, and they were not allowed to intermix with the German public. After the trade agreement was removed, the Cuban workers were uprooted from their locations in Germany and sent back to Cuba. Tatum became concerned with the negative outlook of this narrative. Moreover, he decided to embrace the negative outlook of the narrative and explore this sense of replacement within the sculptural format he witnessed from the Albertinum Museum.
For the three months Tatum spent in Leipzig, he created nine portrait busts from clay to represent displaced people. He had these clay works placed on display during the Sense of Place exhibition in the Spinnerei Winter Rundgang. The clay busts were placed on the floor, laid on top of wooden plant carts and rubber mats. The busts were placed together in pairs of two. Each bust sat cheek-to-cheek with its partner to create an intimate arrangement. The works were displayed so that their primary viewing angle was from above the busts. Tatum wanted to direct an exhibition format where people viewing the objects were looking down on them and thinking about the significance of looking down on other people (or in this case representations of other people). After the showcase, Tatum shattered the portrait busts and had them buried in a garden area within the Spinnerei campus. The burial ceremony was documented through video and can be viewed on Youtube or in select exhibitions. Furthermore, parts of the broken busts were saved and later re-used within Sedimente, the LIA 10 Year Anniversary Showcase. These objects and the documentation of their lifespan propel forward Tatum’s interest for object replacement, and they begin to negotiate between the value of the object as a physical form and the value of the objects influence through its transformation from one location to another.