Still Life with Sleeper

Still Life with Sleeper

Photograph with sleeper

3:28 PM. Waiting at Outpatient Clinic, Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti. 2009.

Time, conditioned by waiting. Or rather, there will always be a wait. Here, in the courtyard of  Zanmi Lasante hospital’s outpatient clinic, people wait, for hours, days.

A pair of slippers, a bed sheet serving multiple functions (for now, pajamas), and the concrete bench. “There is no drama here, no subject in which we might be expected to locate meaning, much less transcendence; there is no poetry of relation, and no value ascribed to rarity or worth.” These words, found again as I randomly flipped through Mark Doty’s remarkable, short-long work of non-fiction cum essay, Still Life With Oysters and Lemon (thank you Christina Serra for introducing me to this, and yes, I will return the book to you, with a print of this image), embrace and define the taste of time in this courtyard. Doty’s meditation on stillness and painting, and the gaze, all play out for me here. The photograph is almost offensive, intimate. And yet with its emptiness, and crumbling concrete (certainty), and odd, unexplained patches of dark (wetness), and this person, pouring into space; all amount to being pulled and absorbing. The landscape spins around the same gravitational center, and I am spinning on the other side of its orbit. I am being pulled too.

No drama here, except the drama of having and not having, of gazing and sleeping, of certainty and decay. Read Doty’s book.

Mark Doty, Still Life With Oysters and Lemon, Beacon Press, Boston

Canon 5D MKII, EF 35mm 1.4L USM lens, post processed in Lightroom