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 travelled to 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 bust, the place her sternum meets her collarbone, 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 fresh parsley and basil, rubbing the stems between my fingers. I inhale; they smell like my grandmother’s house.  I tell my cousin I have never picked cherries 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. We have handfuls.

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.  Had my allergy been psychosomatic?  I consider what it means to consume the land as I capture the interaction between two bodies—one celestial, one human. 


Panel II Text:

The sky is the color of hydrangeas, but the heat in air is so thick it reminds me of turpentine fumes. It scorches my throat and I feel the stickiness of saltwater as it wells up on my skin and soaks through my clothes. I set up two 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 tall grass. To avoid a few cow pies, I decide to place his chair facing West during sunset. I dig four holes for four chair legs and increased stability. I press a 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 I photographed him, we sat together back to back, sharing a pillow on the floor.  We crossed our legs and stretched, letting out gusts of air as if to cleanse our lungs from words unspoken. I felt him lean back on me almost accidentally, and I accommodated by rounding out my shoulders and leaning forward toward my feet.

I thought about a friend from Ohio. 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, which ultimately allowed us to separate 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 seemingly identical. While I photograph, I think about place and time, the connection we have to the land and to each other, about the potential strangers have when we meet them, and the fear and elation we feel in unfamiliar spaces.  When do people and place become indistinguishable? Are they always this way.