To Be Alive, The Softest Splendor (2018)

To view this work, you crawl under a blanket fort and wear headphones while cradling the smart phone in your hands.

I’m grateful to Joshua Ware for including me in the September 2018 group show, Urban Aggregate, and the amazing Sommer Browning for making these lovely community gatherings at her gallery space, Georgia, possible. The show included Suchitra Mattai, Diego Rodriguez-Warner, Sammy Lee, Sarah Bowling, Ashley Frazier, Eric Dallimore, and a sound performance by Eric Baus.

Immense gratitudes to Sammy Lee for inviting me to re-exhibit this piece at Artworks Center for Contemporary Art in December 2020 as part of a group show, Other Backgrounds, curated by Sammy Lee, George P. Perez, and Derrick Velazquez. The show included Colby Deal, Gustav Hamilton, Aitor Lajarin-Encina, Leslie Macklin, and Joo Yeon Woo.

To Be Alive, The Softest Splendor (installation and video, 2018)

The relational experience of intimacy—of discovering yourself in a shared moment of human connection and vulnerable safety—invokes a special attention, one that focuses heightened interest on fine details. The glorious beauty of a turning hand, the gentle play of light catching on someone’s hair.

I have found that urban environments invite me to narrow my attention far more than vast open landscapes—the sense of density and crowding requires me to hone rather than diffuse. This was something I mourned for many years, as I felt it was a sad survival response to regular street harassment and an assault I experienced while living in Philadelphia. By narrowing my attention, I realized I was trying to shield myself from the aggressive or hateful interest of others. A cocoon of focus. This video piece is a small healing effort—to remind myself of the beauties in being small.

I believe that gentle attention is a type of love—in these cases, that loving interest casts a friendship light onto my friends’ bodies as they share a little bit of their time and stories with me. My hope is that while viewing this piece, Georgia’s guests will share in the affectionate interest I experienced while making this piece; that we’ll all collectively remember what a joy it is to be alive, the softest splendor.