Barren trees from a distance line the landscape like fur warming earth’s body while it hibernates. Bright red holly berries appear upon closer look as the wind whips across the Hudson River. Nobody is around to share presence or produce warmth. It’s a lonely landscape of vast spaces where thoughts, like faint whispers riding the wind, blow through my body and leave it cold. I am left only with images of past experiences at home with loved ones.
Returning to the city there is plenty of opportunity to find warmth but the cold renders these illegible, so I find what is familiar. I go to the hotel room where my love once dwelled and find her still gone. All that is left of our encounter is a bag full of exposed film: visual diaries from a better time. This is the place where memories propel through my mind leaving my body cold. Experiences overlaid, intertwined and entangled become the setting for a fantasy of being with her again.
Reflections on these thoughts lead me to An Erotic Beyond Sade by Octavio Paz where the author tells us that eroticism is sexuality and something more: “…and that something is what makes up it’s [eroticism’s] essence. That something feeds on sexuality; it is nature. And yet, at the same time, it is unnatural.” (Paz 10) If eroticism is unnatural then it must be built by self-directed human consciousness. Humankind impedes on nature by creating eroticism that gives sexuality purpose beyond brutal reproduction. I think of human sexuality as a puzzle put together by pieces of erotic thoughts; except the form of the pieces are not fixed. Rather the one who holds the pieces forms them to put them together according to a specific intention.
In my travels from Taos to Dallas and now New York City I continue my observations of public outdoor and natural settings in different locations. Central Park, the High Line in Chelsea, and the grounds of Dia Beacon are the places I encounter while visiting in January 2014, one of the coldest and stormiest winters the Northeast has seen in recent memory. I was alone most of the time except for a couple days when I was joined by someone and shared a hotel room at the Lucerne Hotel, in the upper west side of Manhattan.
I photographed observations in both indoor and outdoor locations taking advantage of New England’s soft, diffuse daylight that seems unique to the area. Time I spent in Chicago in the 1990’s is a reminder that places at this latitude have this type of light in the winter. It seems to curl over physical contours, wrapping bodies and objects in diffuse light covering surfaces in supple milky smoothness. I decided to use an old film camera from the 1950’s to capture these qualities. The old lens filters the light slower than a new digital camera and burns the image onto the film softly like the light it captures. Once the film is developed, I intertwine these memories by overlaying the images. Selections include images of bare trees, branches with holly berries, and clusters of trees that are visually analogous to body hair. Combined images obscure physical forms, breaking up outlines and rendering objects and bodies unidentifiable. When these images are entangled I print them large scale on fiber based inkjet paper. Then I wet the back of the paper with water and acrylic paint.
Once the moisture has soaked through the paper I crumple the print. The repeated grabbing, squeezing, crushing, and re-stretching renders the image nearly illegible. Objects of my memories and fantasies are then circumscribed by incisions made between the folds of the crumpled paper leaving a rhizome-like pattern revealing simultaneously organic and intentional connections between human and botanical forms. Works Cited: Paz, Octavio. An Erotic Beyond: Sade. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company. 1993. Print.