Girl Love

Kaja Silverman
2003 October  
Photograph (l998-99) begins like the story of creation: a "formless void and darkness cover[ing] the face of the deep." 1 Before long, a wind "sweeps over the face of the waters," and light begins to separate itself from darkness. But the creation with which Photograph begins gives rise to a gray-and-white world, not the Technicolor one we usually associate with the inauguration of time; it is as if color has not yet been conjured forth. On a first screening of the sequence I have just
more » ... , we have no idea what kind of a text we are looking at. The opening images resemble one of those Gerhard Richter paintings in which a newspaper photograph has been abstracted to the point of unrecognizability. The subsequent play of light on water does with gray and white what a late Turner painting does with color. 2 But these images appear to move, as if they are passing through a film projector. Here, too, we are not on firm ground. The viewer who takes advantage of the freedom James Coleman gives her by turning around to look at the film projector is astonished to see, instead, the usual three slide projectors, one on top of another. If she goes closer to the screen, she is in for an even bigger surprise. The rippling of the water comes to an abrupt halt, and then congeals into the unreadable materiality of a still photograph. The opening images of Photograph are accompanied by the almost liquid sounds of a young girl sighing. After a few moments, she begins to speak. Her language is evocative in its cadence, elisions, and ornateness of an earlier moment in time, but one that is impossible to locate. It sounds like a twentieth-century imitation of a 1. I quote here and in the sentences that follow from Genesis 1: 1-6, in the translation provided by
doi:10.1162/016228703322031695 fatcat:tgiob7nkrzhadgscwxcldznpwq