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photography

CHARLOTT DAZAN

SURVIVAL FEAST

cdazan@risd.edu

Dear so and so,
 

I made you but I was unable to carry you.
 
Consequently, my eyes set out like spies, trying to find anything that could be of use, but all I could turn up was a hand-me-down office chair. Somehow, I managed to wiggle you into it and wheeled you like a queen into your designated space, facing yet another headache; how to lift you onto your pedestal. Taking pride in being a problem solver, I clasped my arms around you in a rather awkward embrace and proceeded to lift, but your weight forced me like Newton’s apple toward the ground. And I fell in what felt like slow motion backwards with you on top of me. I kept my cool and gently laid you on your side, to my dismay, with my fingers stuck under what must have been 70 kg (what on earth did I feed you). I had no choice but to pull them out swiftly. By doing so, I scratched my assets, my tools, my hands, and I cursed you bleeding. I cursed my upper body for being weak. I cursed my chromosomes for making you but being unable to carry you. I had to ask for help; the one thing I don’t do.
 
Who are you? 70 kg of densely packed molecules, heavy yet fragile; you are a cycle of life that transforms in the pit of my palms, from dust to liquid to solid unto dust. Oh, that musty smell as you shed your liquid state, descending the stairs to my great grandmother’s basement, like summer evening air sweet yet crumbling. I held the power over your corpus minutes ago, when you were like clay that I could mold into whatever I felt like. As time passes you feel feverish to touch, sweat forms on your shape, then you go rock hard, reclaiming the power, by ripping it out of my hands. How often I have to be violent with you. I beat you vigorously, making you into my desire. You emerge as a shape and keep your pride. I celebrate you by throwing vibrant colors your pallid way. I know you have a trick or two up your sleeve to harm me; not only your weight, but also your dust, that you love throwing my way like bad breath, force feeding my lungs. The dust gives me nightmares about the day I’m unable to breathe without a tank on wheels. I guess we have a rather codependent relationship you and I; some say I should call it quits, but I have no intention in doing so. We die the day we are born; it might as well be from a stale mouth’s blow. So instead I lift weights at the gym. Your skin surface is like coarse sandpaper, unpleasant to touch, yet great to paint. I can’t paint you with light gentle strokes, I have to smack it on you, as your skin is dry and sucks paint from my brush like a hungry lamb to a mother’s breast. I like how it looks scattered like a blotched paint job, unfinished, patterns emerge. Over time dry skin pokes through like mud crack allergic to the sun. It’s not like I can’t make you smooth and polished, I just don’t want to. I want you to feel ugly. I want to paint you like an Anselm Kiefer canvas, though you look nothing like it. Instead, you’re more like pastel colored candy that hiss and splutter in rabies froth, or a prop from Miami Vice.
 
I’m tempted to bite into your skin, but I’m afraid my teeth will break. I learned this from being chased by boys as a kid. Round and around in circles on gray vinyl, until they caught my arms around my back, and I fell teeth first into the plastic. With my front teeth caught in the floor and knocked up into my mouth cavity, I had to be pulled out. I got so upset that I ran out of the flat and threw a stone at the pavement. Unfortunately, I hit what must have been a mama spider who carried a nursery on her abdomen, because countless babies crawled off her dead body in panic and scattered to all sides. I still remember it vividly, how disgusted and fascinated I was then, but to this day I feel guilty for accidentally killing her. It is one of those memories burnt behind my eyelids. At least my front teeth are stuck real good, not even you can break them, so maybe I should give it a try and take a big bite out of your cracked skin.
 
Who came first?

                           the aggressor

                                                  or the victim

I don’t know why I am writing this. It’s not an attempt at cut-up, the style of Burroughs or Gysin. Perhaps because I just read some quotes by Louise Bourgeois, one of them sounding something like this: “I came from a family of repairers. The spider is a repairer. If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn't get mad. She weaves and repairs it.” The web you spun suffocated us all in your rotten cocoon, the smell of musk, your tribal rings and that purple sweater with burn holes peeping through it from when you fell asleep with a cigarette between your fingers. All those scars on your cracked body tells a story about heaters, the ones you fell against when you nodded off. I know how to pick locks, your survival taught me that. Isn’t it funny how people connected through time can have vastly different experiences of the same metaphors.
 
Am I heartless when stabbing rods through your foam core, or am I offering relief. Between them you fight back. It not only offends me, but also infuriates me; making me stab even harder, rods jabbing in wrong directions. Sometimes I surrender. Never to you, but to a tool, like a drill or a hammer. Oh, the sweet feeling of surrender. We were the ruby of the night branch, you looked so fine in your incompleteness, pacifying my root like returning calculus. Your contour in the ceiling of a floor, the eyes of an uncanny embrace, lines of dopamine on a table. Sleep a foreign word; for days we eloped both dusk and dawn. Into a field. Encouraged you aimed, I sighed lightly and slumped deerlike into your arms. Rough caress. Throbbing cunt. Hollow my mind, there is no escape. In the name of the prophet you brought me to a town square and buried me in my amygdala. Savage rampage colors the room in vantablack memory loss; to the sound of an offbeat drum we wake up in debris. I lent it all. Swallow your lines. Let me reconstruct the original loss. My darling, you need some muscle to your bone. My body aches after one of our sessions, but I always win in the end. You stand naked in front of me, sculpt like a bodybuilder, but in my eyes not really looking like much, I never liked lying next to an unfulfilling square. I proceed shaving off your muscles layer by layer, or I slice you with a knife. After spending a day with you I ‘m covered in flesh. I should really learn to shut my mouth, or forever go on spitting.

 

Louise continues sounding blue: “The color blue—that is my color—and the color blue means you have left the drabness of day-to-day reality to be transported into—not a world of fantasy, it’s not a world of fantasy—but a world of freedom where you can say what you like and what you don’t like. This has been expressed forever by the color blue, which is really sky blue.” Blue is for your tongue: the pills you took didn’t cast a sky in your mouth, if only so, then I would lay down on its mucous and look up in your cavity. It was a world of needing one substance to subdue another, maybe it freed you from the anxiety of being you, you definitely left the world of drabness. My favorite color is blue. Blue in all its shades is proud and sensitive, unlike green who is clingy and needy. Unlike red who is a busy bee. Unlike yellow piss. The color of the night I couldn’t control my motor skills and consequently kicked in a window to the local bethel. God's children were having a get together and the drunkards were not invited. This was not taken lightly, so we hammered on the door and windows with both hands and feet until they let us in. Once in, we went straight to the bathroom and peed on the floor; the warm stream kept spreading out on the polished concrete floor. How we laughed out loud when white winged feet walked into the bathroom and didn’t realize they walked around in piss; I guess their saintly gullible logic mistook it for holy water. In the end there was one toilet and we just had to go, beer does that to your bladder. Yellow: puss, piss and beer from pale straw to amber like the exterior of the bethel painted the color of our discharge. Yellow-bellied: coward. Like me when I let the local punk who was in love with me take the blame for the crushed window. Back then we didn’t fathom religion, we were the infant terrible who followed the logic of sirens wailing the night blue. One day you were in, the next out. This was the period I was out late or never came home, and you were constantly angry with me, but I didn't care, because we both knew that you could not be taken seriously. I was your mother. That was my hubris. I know you felt dumb around me, that I was too strong for you. It only lasted about a year, and I was really never bad, I went back to being a ‘good girl’ rather quickly. I would never want to end up like you. Rock hard with rotten innards of foam. And maybe that was your anger. Red. Bright like the color of the floor after someone broke into your apartment and cut themselves on glass, dark like the tip of the needle they used to shoot up whatever they found, deep like the walls falling onto me like cluttered blood when I enter your living room. Black the sound of your moaning escaping the bedroom window, the pit of the eyes of the man who was waiting in line on the balcony, the glowing embers of what once was hope our restaurant and our house now laid to rest in ashes. Brown the noise of you as you complain about us not praising the furniture you bought with an inheritance you received, the selfishness of the act, understood in hindsight as your wish to be the maker. Brown sofa, brown tables, brown chairs. The discoloring of the spoons, the residue in the syringe, the money left in a sock after your death. Brown the color of your soul infesting everything you touch; you were the plague of my life. Brown the dirt you never grew out of—a comma in a deep six textbook, the yearning pulled you back under. Gray the affordable vinyl that covers every attempt like help. White the sound of the dissonance as I disappear.
 
(Metallic teal, neon green, neon purple, neon red, apple green, emerald green, lime, mint green, magenta, cobalt blue, ultramarine, azure, baby blue, metallic royal blue, venetian blue, lemon yellow, pale yellow, violet, metallic lilac, poppy red, maroon, burgundy, terracotta, fuchsia, hot pink, bubble gum, burnt orange, turquoise and sand. I love you. Wrapped in pitch black contour.)
 
Waking to an iron-grip. Cold and cool with military precision. You are greasy to touch, like pomaded hair. My hands transport black residue to my face, making it look like I work in the mines, which I find rather fitting. You are light and tricky. Light as a result of being the impure child of iron—yet strong and ductile. Tricky because I find you intimidating. When I cut into your limbs, small projectiles are being fired toward my eyes. Bloody cluster bomb. How the sparks fly when I grind you. By melting rod and innards your bones are attached to their joints; a skeleton is formed, a core for the surrounding world to lean on. Earth and fire are your elements. You arise from the core—killer of stars. Inside the protective body of sheet-steel we floated around the city night in silence, only glaring halos drifted by. Metal, plastic and rubber concealing soft tissue. You pushed my torso toward my legs in a ducking position every time we drove past a siren.  For hours it was like the copper wiring crept out of the hood and tied us to the seats. I have no idea why, but suddenly you decided to drive me back, glaring halos shifted to pitch-black darkness as we drove onto country roads, and just like a discarded package you left me on the porch and drove back out into the night. Brown sheet steel, red sheet steel, blue sheet steel. Laughing and singing to lyrics from back seats. Always on our way somewhere. Never standing still. Motor, wheels, carbon and iron. Freedom to cross one border after another. To drop everything at once and run. Metal is knowing there is always another way. Metal is the bones on which synthetics are the skin.
 
Warm and soft with boundless of opportunity. Shag, latex, faux fur and pleather: all polluting, all burn easily. The obvious shapeshifter is fabric. Under it you can have countless personalities, putting on a new show every day. Sunbathing was your mecca; rays can also shift a shape. Your body was like a leather purse submerged in a fistful of oil. The act of stripping latex from a lubed board reminds me of those autumns I peeled dead skin off your back. Hush! What is that sound? Never mind, it is Louise yet again, urging me to end in her memory: “When I was growing up, all the women in my house were using needles. I've always had a fascination with the needle, with the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair damage. It's a claim to forgiveness. It is never aggressive, it's not a pin.” How this makes me laugh out loud. You also liked needles. But, they were never used to repair any damage, instead they caused a whole lot of it; your wounds festering making all your sin pour out of you in yellowish puss. There were no more veins left for the needle. The spool is empty. There is no fabric to hide beneath. No more red rooms. Your needle was a claim to forgive yourself and to forget all those you hurt.
 
Yours 4evermore

 

RISD Grad Show 2020

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