Monday, February 18, 2008

The story behind Light and Longing

Yesterday I made a collage with one of the Light and Longing self-portraits, part of the poem printed on its surface. There is a story behind both the pictures and the poem which I thought I would post here. (Originally I posted it on my blog on MySpace.) Here it is:

Light and Longing

This is not about me and it's not about you,
these words are not written by my hand.
It's about the us that never was and always is
because, at its heart, memory is a very personal fiction.

How could I not love your valleys and summits
as they love me? Endlessly, I taste and touch
though we remain lost in namelessness.

But our story has a name. Our love is told
in the heart of an eagle and on the breath of
a lion. Longing is programmed in our cells.

With their every death and division we expand
beyond the borders of our countries until we know,
as he knew, that no one, not even the rain,
has such small hands.

But there is no us. We had no then, we have no
now. In the light of memory we may shine and pulse
like the hottest star, but to give in would only
push us farther apart.

If you believed you took these pictures and I knew
I wrote these lines together we would tumble
from the heart's hidden chamber transforming longing
with the light of love.

Hush. Turn. Listen. Call me, and know that I will come.


I wrote this piece for Jasper before we were together. What happened was this: I

knew him for a while because we were in an astrology class together (his brother is an

astrologer.) Though a nice guy, I wasn't particularly

interested in him and besides, I was living with my boyfriend at the time but then we

somewhat unexpectedly broke up in the summer and I was single again. I still wasn't

thinking much about Jasper as a romantic possibility until one day in October. On that

day everyone in the course went out to a beer garden afterward. I remember that

Jasper was sitting across from me talking about his job I think (he's a criminal defense

lawyer.) In the middle of his story I had the irrisistable urge to reach across the table

and take his hand in mine. Of course I didn't as we were in a group and it would have

been very, very strange but still, the whole thing struck me like a thunderbolt. Soon

after I started having all these dreams with him in them. Usually something pretty

horrible would happen, like I was forced to live in this house that wasn't safe, but at

some point he would always show up and hold me or take my hand and it always felt so

comfortable, so loving, so intimate. None of these feelings matched our relationship in

real life. In fact, we hardly ever even talked at all, just saw each every other weekend

in astrology class. But I asked myself how could I be having these re-occuring dreams

that were so intense if it really, truly had nothing to do with real life? Then in late

November I got a three-day job in Hannover teaching English to people who work for

the German railway (I did this in several German cities to help prepare them for the

World Cup and was in Hannover four times.) Hannover has got to be one of the most

boring cities in the world but on that particular trip the weather was so stormy and the

light so beautiful that I took a lot of pictures on my time off, several of which I put on

my profile in the category "Stormy Weather." When I got to my hotel room the light

continued to be beautiful and I felt inspired to take the series of self-portraits that are

rotating on the cube above. What's amazing about those pictures to me is that all of

them are very different and none of them really look like me, and yet something about

them captures how I often feel inside. When I looked at those pictures and thought

about Jasper it occured to me: Aren't dreams as real, in there own way, as concrete

reality? Here was this person with whom who I had an intense connection only in my

dreams but how did that have any less value? Wasn't it a separate world where we

would always be together but constantly apart? And so I wrote the poem and made a

book later where I wrote the stanzas across each picture in gold ink. A few months

later Jasper and I did get together, though I wasn't really expecting it. Four months ago

we had our first child. I guess my dreams were right.


To make the collage I took a 4 by 6 copy of the photograph with added effects and mounted it on cardboard, adding a ribbon for easy hanging. I then put tracing paper over the picture and wrote a section of the poem around my face. I coated the collage with matte lacquer and, once it had dried, added black ribbon as a border. I love using earlier inspiration for new inspiration! Below is a slide show of the photograph in all its incarnations.


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