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What I Would Have Said on 1/29/14

sara.gladwin's picture

I missed class on wednesday, so I took at look at the course notes and thought about some of the things I would have written/ would have said.

On Eli’s portrait:

*Kneeling but not quite… one foot poised as though ready to stand back up- reminiscent of movement, which characterizes Eli’s life and relationship to home/body/place/the environment ---> Movement also works w/ metaphor of taking the earth inside the self and letting it grow out; depicted by the tree which grows through Eli

*Face is concentrated; brows furrowed; hands attentive to the tree- supporting it; there’s an feeling of heaviness (meaning not physical heaviness but the kind of heaviness that weighs on the heart) in face and body ---> he appears to be grappling w/ relationship to the earth- reminds us that confronting and being part of the land is not a peaceful, romanticized experience of becoming “one” w/ mother nature (which suggests passivity); but rather a difficult and complex process, which involves constantly re-evaluating the world around us and your relationship/positionality within that world.

*Flannel disregarded on the ground- sense of vulnerability; shedding outer layers… looks like there is something in the flannel breast pocket… maybe a photograph ---> symbolic of memory?

*What I find most interesting is the long, wavy, red hair on the forest floor. There is also a piece of that hair that is braided, lying close to Eli’s knee on the ground. Upon further research (I Googled pictures of Eli Clare) it seems that he does have red hair, which when long, is wavy. My assumption is then that this hair was his… long hair also can symbolize conventional femininity… cutting of the hair can symbolize the shedding of girlhood/femininity/release of past self….

            *HOWEVER; hair appears to also be “growing” from the Earth---> possibly implying a return to the land/having a relationship w/ the land also means a return to an inescapable past/childhood---> his relationship w/ the land will always be felt/understood simultaneously through paradoxical senses of longing for home, and confronting loss.


Upon reading Eli’s words about painting:

*Maybe hair and flannel are what’s being given back---> photograph as memory; hair as memory…


On Transportraits:

*Different ages

*Different landscapes but all outside

* Most not looking at camera… few that are looking at camera have heads angled away---> angles make the portraits seem more dynamic; less static/fixed

*Even though each person is in the foreground of the photograph and environment takes up the background---> the titles of portraits are reversed---> The background scene is the primary title of the portrait while the name of the person in the foreground is the secondary title in parenthesis… for example: WINTER WOODS (DANI)---> background and foreground are equally important components of the photograph

 What does it mean to call our bodies [rather than a place] home?

*We carry places in our bodies; we carry memories of home “under our skin” as Eli would say

*What I find interesting about his statements are the “but”---> implies that the body cannot be home unless we come to terms with the complexities of home; that home is not always safe and welcoming… the “but” in the sentence serves to emphasis the seemingly contradictory relationship between what we think the idealized home should be/we seek our homes to be and what home might actually mean.  It’s also really important to pay attention to the difference between what it would have meant if he had said, “The body is home” and what he actually said, “The body as home.” To say that the body is home… is to say that the body and home are one and the same. However, to say the body “as” home is to invoke the use of metaphor, that the physical body can only be a representation of home… “as” is used to relate words to other words… but not necessarily to mean “sameness;” only that something is “like” something else.

*That being said, I still found it interesting to replace the word home in these sentences ("My loss of home is about being queer" and "My loss of home, of exile, is about class") with the word “body”… just as a way of playing around with the layers of interpretation.