The last ten days have been particularly tired, physically as well as mentally: limbs leaden and airy, resisting coherence; pockets of pain here and there, sewn to skin; fleeting periods of full alertness and acuity. Doubts though, about my oh, so very slow, modes of production (art and writing) sprout like weeds in the cracks of a wall. I’ve learned to bundle even tiny amounts of energy and wring from them what I can, but the gap between ideas and what I’m physically able to do is huge.
Last post’s hands surprised and stung me. I’d been thinking about painting (on) my left and photographing it, but hadn’t found the energy. It doesn’t sound like much, but imagine breaking down the process into its constituent parts, each of which can be broken down further: get out paints, brushes, tissues, water, camera; set up somewhere (kitchen is dark; front-room is bright, as is the carpet), preferably without dropping anything on the way; paint hand when light is right and take pictures with other hand from various angles; and when all is done (if it’s worked) wash paint off, clean brushes, put everything away. It’s not something I can do in one go (unless I have help), would be interrupted by any number of lie-downs, and meanwhile the light may change, or I run out of energy completely – you get the picture. All my activity is fragmented, beads on a thread, with those that need adding getting heavier in the course of the day, or rolling out of reach.
But, when sun streamed in through the window, demarcating a small rectangle of light, I worked with the sharp shadows produced to ‘paint’ my hand. I took a series of quick colour snaps (uninteresting in themselves) and photoshopped a few the next day, not quite sure what I was after until ‘it’ appeared. It’s my hand and not my hand, I don’t recognise it and recognise it fully. Cropping the images felt important; it changes the perception of the hand’s size, and, beyond an association of hard, earth-turning work, there’s a sense of something uncontainable: potential and power, a risk of transgression, trespass (by or against?). Hands (un/gendered?) to be reckoned with. And there’s a harrowing beauty. Work-in-process. I wonder what you think.
I’m now considering uncropped images – the reading seems to shift – gestures and their signification play a part. The boundaries between shadow and hand are less clear – they leak into each other.
The next project-post churns away in me, inspired by an item on the radio this week.
When fatigue falls it’s best to go with what’s already in one’s head, look at it anew: I’ve written a guest-post for Sonia Boué‘s gorgeous blog Museum for Object Research – Wäuwäu. Maybe some of you would like to help fill the museum’s virtual shelves and vitrines?