Currently in the midst of updating my photography portfolio through various concocted projects. Here are a few results from SPACES: Photos of people in places important to them.
The year we spent waiting for my grandmother to die has come and gone. Mostly I ran on beaches and clambered through trails overlooking the meeting of Atlantic and Indian oceans. Plettenburg Bay – a place tourists spend thousands of dollars to reach. They plunge from the highest bungee jump in the world and watch herds of whales drift by – a watery safari.
I am 10 years old. In front of me lies my grandmother; her body stretched to either edge of a splintered wooden box. Mother’s mother. Stuffed tightly around her edges are queen proteas. They overwhelm her. Their furry thick petals and wild green leaves look like heaven (not in the religious sense but the feeling of it). Her casket is awkwardly placed on the coffee table. It pushes up against the green couch, she had chosen to face sliding screen doors overlooking a hilltop of proteas and the distant sea. There was importance and there was vague memory before death, after death and in-between.
I knew my mother was there, at her bedside, when everything slipped away. Their two hands clasped, my grandmother’s breath growing shallow (as I’ve heard it does when death is slow to come).
I don’t walk up to the box that holds her awkward shape; long, cold, stiff. I obsess over the wild beauty that surrounds her. Flowers soft to touch. I imagine her closer, I touch her skin – pull on it.
Family gathers around a deep hole in the garden. I don’t come within five feet of the hole as I watch each person drop handfuls of dirt into it. I’m not afraid of seeing the box carefully placed in its cavity. I’m scared of standing in front of a crowd. Like a magnet, I stick to the side of my mother. Her edges are corduroy, soft and crumpled.
All faces are a blur, except for my aunts. Her yellowish skin and excessive sniveling shock me. She sucks in air through her nose. Every movement made is monstrous and cruel. All else is fine. The air that wraps her face is new air, thin and whispery. The grass under her feet perfectly kept, sculpted around a wild garden. The rest is sea, dirt, tree and protea – a good death.
see these bones
feel these bones
touch these bones
test these bones
teach these bones
break these bones
suck these bones
taste these bones
Artwork from Nuit Blanche exhibition
“In SANITY”, The Story Behind The Wall
Presented by Workman Arts Project Ontario
This sculpture was done by Annalise and is based on the profile of Cynthia H. a patient who was held in the Toronto Asylum for the Insane from 1904 – 1909
All works were based on patient bios from Geoffrey Reaume’s book Remembrance of Patients Past.
Cynthia H.’s fallopian tubes, uterus and one ovary were removed while at the hospital. At the time doctors believed that a woman could be cured of ‘insanity’ by removing her reproductive organs.
All sculptural works at the exhibition reminded me of each individuals struggle but also identified them very specifically as personalities. Each work appeared as an homage to the person being depicted.
Posted in memory
Tagged academia, belief, book, history, language, mythology, personality, photography, politics, psychology, sculpture, story, storytelling, symbolism
Have you ever imagined how many times you could wrap yourself around a gigantic tree, perhaps a baobab tree? No other tree seems to be as prominently installed in the mythical imagination of the western mind. What is bigger? What can compare?
Your entire back pressed against its side. Warmth emanates through your body breathing life into trails of traveling blood. Flip yourself like a coin. Tummy and chest hug smooth bark. Repeat, over and over again. How many times would it take?
For me this mythology was real. I remember what baobab bark felt like and yet this tree still feels like the stuff of fairytales. Part of the reason for this is because it is implanted into my childhood. From my current North American perspective much of that childhood seems like a mythology. There were giant trees, unending desert, unusual grasses and swimming in Okavango tributaries. Yes there was also a small town, where we lived with all amenities available but the memories that pop out are the ones from camping expeditions.
I am leaning against a baobab, my foot resting on its sprawling root. Above me branches reach out in every direction. A tire swing hangs from a lower branch, gently swaying. To my left sits our little blue buckie (truck). For miles ahead of me the bleached Makgadikgadi Pans stretch out; buckles and cracks texture its surface.
After scouring the ground I have returned to rest under this large embracive tree. In my hand, fingers press against little red stones called garnets. In front of me friends are still collecting these small red treasures. That moment ends there. Memory trails off and enters other days filled of other happenings that I almost can’t believe were my own. Memories are very much like dreams, a conglomerate of truth and what you have convinced yourself to be real.
My radio on the right is over 23 years old and still working.
I really got addicted to radio at the age of seven, upon the completion of almost a year living in Canada. Sitting practically on top of a small metal encased radio, I was afraid of just one word escaping me and as a result all other content becoming disjointed and placed out of context. While listening attentively to the lyrics of a song or a talk radio show I still become frustrated when others feel the need to start blabbing overtop the sound waves.
It was February 11, 1990. Mandela had just been released and CBC’s Cross Country Check-Up (a call in show) was chiming in. If my memory is not playing tricks on me I believe Rex Murphy was hosting at the time. Later on that day the whole family would be glued to a TV for at least an hour. Who was this mysterious man that most South Africans revered, but who many were taught to fear?
As commentary filtered in and out from across the country I began concocting my own words. I imagined how MY voice would resonate from one end of Canada to the other. There were guests throughout the show, South Africans with some insight into this momentous occasion.
If Canadians felt they had something important to share on the matter I knew that I definitely did as well.
“Mom, I think I want to call in.” I pronounced. Some friends were over as well and they all encouraged me to go for it. My arm was a little shaky as I gripped the phone and dialed. I paced the kitchen a little, just like you see nervous people do in the movies, exactly like that. After some time I got through and was placed on the waiting list.
I don’t remember my exact words, but I do know that they were placed carefully, thought over and edited down. The gist was that I expressed why I thought Mandela’s release was so important and what it meant. I think Rex said something very generous about my insight and his guest attentively responded… Beyond that I’m not sure of the details. It was pretty exciting to be on the radio though and a good day to participate. Radio LOVE from then on.
Nelson Mandela addresses Parliament in June, 1990 soon after his release.
BBC broadcast on release of Nelson Mandela
A video I made a few years ago with 3 youtube parts. After re-visiting I realize its extremely eery aspects couched in nostalgia.
The same video can be seen in one unbroken 17 minute stream here. For some reason the videoplayer wasn’t embedding into my blog. The quality is better as well.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged age, foretelling, future, growth, language, mythology, preacher, science fiction, story, storytelling, symbolism, travel