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

And think of the dream:
                  the one where your father forgets his keys
                           & lives, or the baby breathes
                                    outside your body, or the toddler doesn’t
                                             fall from the stone basin
                                       where you bathe
                           him. And think of the skull
                  as intact. The pupils,
                                             unburst. That silence
                              where you lay down
your wanting
                  as fire in a forest. And think
                           of wanting as a shadow
                                    that attaches itself                                
                                             to the body without discretion
                              or violence: the cattle’s cries
amid harvested crops,
                           the child’s cries—for a breast,
                                    for milk, for breath—
                                             the gentle blow
                                                      of his first dead
                                       goldfish, the empty bowl,
drought that lays itself down
                  in the fields, one lit cigarette
                                    from a car window
                                             as the houses burn      

                                                      as we rise & rise & the ground
                                       browns, as we water & weed
and think of the wilderness—how long it has
                                             suffered weather,  
                  the terrible trouble of sleep. And think
                                             of human as temporary:
our brilliance for forgetting
                  like being burned
                           by the sun, again & again,
                                             for the first time.


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