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View From my Mother’s House (2005)

This really means view from a mother’s house, perhaps from all mothers’ houses, perhaps from all mothers’ bodies. A snapshot of a creek,  two snapshots of a boy, a snapshot of a birth—these are all photographs that to a viewer who casually picks one up will reveal  only the information visible on the surface. To me the first is the view from my mother’s house in Long Island; the two  boys are images of my son, Zoo; the third is my sister Sarah having just given birth to her twins not six months ago.  Next to her my mother holds a baby. They come together into a landscape under a glass sky. At the centre of this landscape a Willow tree,  and there is a willow photographed next to the creek, and there is a willow reflected in the plexiglass, as one might see it reflected on the surface of a glassy pond.   The big willow is mostly white,  made up of cut, unexposed photo paper.  It celebrates and mourns all those things unseen, unremembered.  Flying around the space is a flock of geese, like the ones that fly over the creek behind my mother’s house.  They fly at dawn or dusk, and while I have seen them and heard them, I have never been able to photograph them.  They just come and go, filling the air with the magic of the ungraspable. It rains all through the landscape.  It rains through my son, wounding him and opening him up to pain. It rains through the willow and onto the ground. It rains from the geese as a sheet of shiny plexiglass, slicing through the space as a rainstorm slices through the landscape, as a snapshot slices through time, as a knife slices through paper, as geese slice through the sky,  a the body opens itself up to birth.  Rain nourishes and cools and covers everything outside with a film of water and the landscape stands in a kind of parenthetical stillness marked only by the sound and movement of the raindrops.  Geese are not the only birds to inhabit the landscape.  Small white birds fly in eerie symmetry over the creek. The willow itself seems to be made of hanging birds.  Zoo floats up to the sky like a cluster of seeds. Seeds searching for sunlight so they may grow into new trees. Human seed lead to birth. Birth emanates from the intimate female body like heat from the deep earth, warming  even the nearby Willow.  Every new experience forces its way into our order of things and compels it to rearrange.
Maggie Cardelús (2005)