The founding Institute for Clew Studies Case Study is a project based on the 1932 shooting of my great-grandfather, Franklin Crosby Bearse, who was killed while attempting to steal contraband liquor from Cape Cod rumrunners. Despite an extensive criminal investigation, the case was never officially solved. My research into the murder has inspired a series of artworks (drawings, texts, photos, videos, installations, lectures) creatively interpreting the circumstances surrounding the events and the many individuals involved. After many years of research, I may or may not know the identity of whoever it was that a bullet through my great-grandfather’s heart or who masterminded the murder. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter. “Solving” the case does not provide insight into who Frankie was or what led him to be caught in the glare of powerful spotlights on that fateful night. “Solving” the case does not lead me out of the maze of questions regarding my own identity and what characteristics Frankie passed down to my grandmother, my father, and me. My extensive research into the circumstances and people involved in this case has failed to result in a cohesive truth about these the dramatic events surrounding Frankie’s murder. In full recognition of the impossibility of positing definitive answers, I have pursued random, fragmentary details that I uncovered. This tangential line of inquiry has led to discoveries that are strange, mysterious, amusing, mundane, and spectacular. The drawings in this project are an attempt to illustrate these stories and illuminate a broad range of poignant moments in everyday lives —clews that are more revelatory than a murder conviction. This ICS Case Study examines the relationship between the past and the present, reflects on inevitable obscurity that awaits us all, and embraces the impossibility of controlling legacy and the absurd details that outlive us..

Record Groups
The Core Collection has been divided into four record groups, each of which provides an meandering route towards some sort of insight in this labrythine endeavor. It should be noted that the artifacts in each of these collections tend to underscore the arbitrary nature and profound abundance of the faint material traces left behind by those who came before us.

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The Crime  

All the evidence we have at this time in reference to what took place at the Elliott cottage, on the shores of Long Pond, in Centerville, Massachusetts, on the evening of December 30, 1932.

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Case Studies  

Material findings related to ICS’s careful—yet admittedly limited on occasion—study of individuals involved in the criminal investigation into Franklin C Bearse’s untimely death.

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The Hijackers  

Six other men accompanied Frankie on that fateful excursion: John and Truman Lewis (both brothers of Frankie’s wife Helen), Ned Ashley, Joseph Correira, Manny Robello, and Jimmy Mendes.

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The Family  

Franklin Crosby Bearse was my great-grandfather – the father of my paternal grandmother. Until embarking on this project, I knew nothing of the profound, complex--and in many ways, completely ordinary -- legacy he shouldered and passed down through our family. Claiming his story, I have come to realize how deeply the past is embedded in the present, a notion that is of great interest at ICS.