39. Stop at 39. For many years I have created profiles in various romance oriented social media forums where my given age is 39. From the dating website to the blogging platform. From OKCupid to Tindr. From Mindfulmeet to Adopte un Mec to Meetic.

And yet, it is not true.

I have never been 39.

Because there are no traces of me at 39.

I decided one day that I needed to immortalise this forever-never 39. So I  set out to selfify myself. Willing 39 into existence. To stare at myself until the disagreeable feeling of a loss dissipates. Until the sickening nausea of a year, the 39th, a year that never materialised, is commemorated externally, thus ensuring its negation, a double negation, a hole in the fabric of my mortality, as the place where something will actually appear.

Somehow the 39th year, its idea, my waiting for it never to arrive, has provided a revelation about invisibility. Invisibility as a distilled moment of frontier, the liminal space of oublie. The desultory aliveness of being overlooked, scorned, cast aside, anonymous, unexamined, by passed, or relegated to the footnote of existence, the acute discomfort of needing to perenially excuse and then legitimise my presence becomes tangible, in this outside eye looking on. A camera, my peeping Tom.  If I can manage to make 52 short vidéoclips for the 52 weeks of the 39th year that never appeared, possibly, just possibly, the tight intimacy of this sort of declarative: “I see you” will regain some meaning.

Another working suspicion is this: were I to still for a moment –like the people we attend to in the museums, the people in the portraits who have been examined and written about for centuries, unmoving creatures who have captured our  attention– were I to still, I might be noticed. Not as a loitering ambivalent dark threat. But simply as a human woman alone. Perhaps if I sat a moment, quietly,  the time needed for the portrait, someone, would look at with kind inquiry, in this holding space, a frame, a tableau. And say: “I see you.”

The shorts are all 9:39 minutes in length.

  1. The girl with a pearl earring (Vermeer)
  2. Crown of thorns (Rubens)
  3. Dalakulla (Anders Zorn)
  4. Portrait of a lady in a red dress (Pontormo)
  5. Annie Lebovitz might
  6. Mnemosyne (Dante Gabriel Rosseti)
  7. Mary Fisher (Julia Margaret Cameron)

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