“But I always think the best way to know God is to love many things.” (V.VanGogh)
Another opening or a tear. (An opening is designed to gape, while a tear is a minor tragedy.) The life that we longed for sags with the weight of its own losses. It’s a sling of paper, wet until it gives. And here we are, after all, breathers on this side of death, with meaty arms and quiet shoulders where the wind blows in the evening and street lights make oases between gravelly dirt. The street lights make the night more alien, but you take my hand in yours. And the cars growl by, and the planes blink silently far above, just like rhythmic planets, just like punctuated shooting stars. You are my beau, you know, and there will never be another. The traveller that sides with me. Under our feet is grass and under the grass is dirt, where worms and untold hordes of insects march their dignified lives on. A slug is a friend and he is part of me and is my other. When he mates, his sliminess flanges out into a wide petalled flower. He is as beautiful as any one of us and more because of his direct actions. He trails the sea with him. His skin is the carrying of the sea. Let me carry the sea with me– the salty water of my blood is enough. Come swim in me as I swim in you. The ocean is the most foreign thing I know and everything that holds me.
I spent a day one time learning the basics of manuscript illumination. The instructor was an immersive teacher, reading psalms to us and playing monastic chants as we worked. The day had a long, slow cadence that involved layering and waiting, eating together and discussing the symbolic aspects of, for instance, breathing warm air onto the adhesive before floating a thin skin of gold leaf over the surface. When I got into a car at the end of that time, I was overcome by the panic of speed. The movement seemed too great compared to the low slow pace I’d been keeping. The project “A Building for Breathing” with Serrah Russell has felt a little like this oasis of stillness and contemplation. Serrah invited me to contribute writing to an exhibit she was preparing at Gage Academy, and this evolved into a book project.
The process began with our discovery that we’d both been reading Gaston Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space,” and we began discussing the ways that his book had been influencing us. We shared thoughts about the domestic space as a psychological and oneiric stage, about the ways that buildings (especially houses) both echo and double our own bodies and about the idiosyncratic approach Bachelard felt free to use in this text. Serrah’s work was a wonderful jumping-off point for me, since it is evocative and visually sophisticated, but open ended. I find, in her work, the hush between sounds. The awareness of an edge before you arrive at an object fully formed and named.
The books we had published are embellished with handmade collages and drawings on vellum, so each is unique. This was another interesting level of collaboration, since I did not want to distract from the visual subtlety of Serrah’s work. Above, you can see one example of my pared-down approach. The exhibition (which is viewable at Gage Academy until November 15th) includes additional text written on the walls and Serrah’s work displayed on vellum. More to come on a closing reception and documentation of the exhibition!
If you are interested in purchasing one of the edition of 10 ($100 plus shipping), write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will consider the lilies; I will consider the ferns. I will consider the fragrant ragged edged weeds that bloom with delicate purple stars. I will consider the wild ginger root that brightens the mind and cleans the teeth. I will consider the earthy-tasting richness of the stinging nettle, once it has been blanched in boiling water. I will consider the dizzy cabbage moth wheeling in ecstasy over swaying blossoms. I will consider the plantain weed with its parallel veins: chewed into a poultice, it siphons away bee sting. And I have proven this. And consider it. I will consider long grasses and spongy mosses, layers of generations of trees both standing and fallen, falling water, trickling water, misting, foggy, frozen, shimmering, ebbing and flowing water, always rising and always falling. I will consider the ruffling layers of stony oyster shells and the curving worms that shelter beneath them at low tide. I will consider the scuttling claws and waving tentacles, the slimy and bony mounds of trembling life washed by the sea in its heaving rhythm. And I will be rich and will not be poor, though the city would deem me so. I will be rich and eat dandelion greens. I will be rich and bathe in gold, when that gold is post-rain sun.