Sonja Dahl and Jovencio de la Paz, Egress, 2012 (indigo dye, paper, room)

Am I the red-eye? The receptacle.
The body where others leave themselves. Gutted,
you leave me to the rain.
You pretend a body can’t be named—
the daughter we lost.
The woman you fucked to fuck
yourself sane.
What’s in a name? I don’t know
why we name a daughter who died in utero.
Why we don’t call her grief.
Fuckery. Thief. I want to name what you did.
I want to name the blood. The hurt
of her. The shadow-prayer of her.
I want to name the dark.
I want to name you bastard.
I want.
I want my body to protest
yours. Hers. The bodies that died
inside me. Not once.
I want not to want
you. Even now. Even when.


Chelsea Dingman


Artist's Commentary:

We caught our breath reading Chelsea Dingman’s poems alongside images of our piece Egress. The relationships are powerful and intense. Egress is a piece we made some years ago as a grief response to the deluge of queer teen suicides making the news that year. We were thinking a great deal at the time about indigo dye’s association in many cultures as a spiritually dangerous and unstable substance, related to the perishability of both cloth and bodies. “Washing” an entire room in the dye, allowing it to drip down the walls as if weeping, we were trying to create a physical space in which to experience the blueness and helplessness of loss. Each of the blank sheets of paper, when freshly dyed, stuck to the walls like so many blue portraits. As they dried, the papers curled slowly and fell to the floor, leaving behind imprinted “ghosts.”

Pairing images of this piece with Chelsea's poems about stillbirth is somehow exactly right, and so painful and beautiful all at once. She writes about the emptied womb as a gutted space, of wanting to name the loss, of wanting itself “as a shadow that attaches itself to the body without discretion or violence,” and we can’t help thinking that those dripping indigo portraits are exactly like this - nameless shadows of our grief, imprints on the interior space of a room and the soft, susceptible inner space of our hearts.

Sonja Dahl and Jovencio de la Paz