Between Two Bodies | 2018
Dehydrated Kombucha Mother (SCOBY), image transfer, found wood
Installation | 13x20" (scoby), 7x8" (found wood)
Panel I Text:
She runs playfully toward the cherry tree and squints at the sun, causing her glasses to slide down the bridge of her nose. Wrinkling her face, she pushes the clear plastic back into the crevice between her eyes with her forefinger and suggests we make a cherry tart. I have been allergic to cherries for a decade.
I went to Montaguto, Italy this past summer and met my distant relatives. Their garden is on top of a mountain that overlooks a valley and “the sleeping woman” (translating to “Sleeping Beauty”), a profile of rocks and mountain ranges that appear to be the body of a maiden. My cousin points toward her and I follow his finger, tracing the top of her legs, her torso and breasts, the nape of her neck, the tip of her nose, her forehead. Their garden is full of beautiful plants, including olive, fig, pear, and cherry trees. I run my hands along the fresh parsley and basil, rubbing the leaves between my fingers. I inhale; they smell like my grandmother’s house. I tell my cousin I have never picked a cherry from a tree before. He reaches up and pulls a cherry from the branch, shows it to me, and tosses it into his mouth. With a smile, he spits the cherry pit on the ground. I imitate, and for the first time in years I have no reaction to the delicious cherries.
As I see her approach this cherry tree, I feel excitement and nostalgia as I reciprocate her reaction and I think of my family. I reach up and pick the fruit. Much tarter than the Italian cherries, but fresh and pleasant. We take turns picking and I ask her if I can photograph her with the tree.
Two days later we return to find the tree has gotten worms. We eat a few, but eventually succumb to pulling the flesh apart with our fingers to reveal the pit and search for the worms that had overtaken the bounty. She intuitively picks and moves the branches, reaching up and standing on her toes. She eats one and I capture her hand reaching out as if to show me the residual of her harvest. I think about my allergy and wonder if it had been psychosomatic. I think about consuming the land and capturing the interaction between two bodies—one celestial, one human.
Panel II Text:
The sky is the color of blue hydrangeas, but the air holds the heat of a burning fever. I set up the chairs, one here, one there. Just right. The hill slants at such an extreme that I find myself walking clumsily through the pasture, stomping on thistles and becoming entangled in the tall grass. I avoid a few cow pies and decide to place his chair facing West during sunset. I dig four holes for four chairs legs and increased stability. I press the two-foot stick into the earth and fill in the excess space around it with hay and grass. I locate its shadow. A compass, if you will—an apparatus for finding place.
Before the photo shoot, we sat together back to back for a while, sharing a pillow on the floor. We crossed our legs and stretched. Deep inhale and deep exhale. I felt him lean back on me almost accidentally, and I countered him by leaning forward. I thought about a friend of mine. She embraces me by aligning the left side of her body with mine; in this way, our hearts touch. With her arms around me, I sometimes feel my body go limp. Almost in surrender. As he and I sat back to back, our hearts aligned, and I acknowledged the significance of silent dialogues. When we became more comfortable, our bodies moved and swayed, ultimately separating ourselves from one another, as if we found strength in leaning to then support our own weight.
Afterward, we walk to the pasture and with ease, I take over one-hundred photos. Each one slightly different from the one preceding it, some similar, some seemingly identical. I think about place, about time, about the connection we have to the land and to each other. I think about the potential strangers have when we meet them and the fear and elation we feel in unfamiliar places. When do people and place become indistinguishable? Are they always this way.