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The room is dim, neat, square. A pillowy warmth, the hum and smell of radiators. He leans past you to a low, out of sight switch and light clicks into place between the furniture. Sparse desk, two deep chairs, a bookshelf straight and full like the teeth of a grin. He does not grin. He gestures, and you sit. He sits. He sprawls in his chair, face obscured by a hand rubbing aggressively at his brow, and makes no indication or invitation for you to speak. 

 

The door to the room has a long glass panel in it. Two narrow strips of paper have been pinned over the glass with tiny beads of white-tack, mottled translucence thickening where they overlap against the dull glow of the corridor. You think that the strips must have been measured and trimmed, since they’re just narrower than standard cartridge. You try to picture him engaged in this procedure: the limp arc of paper lifted from the printer tray, the scissors, his hands, a succession of tiny beads rolled and bruised by the print of his thumb. 

 

He does not look at you, but you feel your visibility against the surface of your face like touch. A warm fug. You arrange in your body a posture of serene but discerning attention. Neck lengthened, slight lift of the chin, face open and  receptive. One foot planted on the floor, the other hovering, oblique, loose. Your hands two lumps gone sticky in the lap. Sensation that your hands are much larger than they really are. You think about whether you could move them, where you would put them, which first, and when. Whether the stickiness of hands could be palpable from across a room. 

 

When you begin to speak, there is a gap. Language opens along pre-ruled folds.   It’s as if all of it is lined up ahead and apart from you like a well-rehearsed choreography. You find yourself pausing to feign the real-time arrival of new thought; fragmenting the syntax to simulate a delicate, internal negotiation. A hand lifts and turns, dips in tandem with the pitch of the voice, then rejoins the other in the lap. A well-placed glance, a knowing smile. Your tone is softly granular; careful striations of affect. Not seductive in intent, but ajar to this possibility. 

 

You know, he says, that you’re not really telling me anything. 

When you stand to leave, you see that the window looks out onto a neat, enclosed lawn. The day is almost gone, everything dense and bluish under a blank december sky. And here, time thins and stops. Mute shock of only now seeing something which must have been there the whole time. Something there and not there on the grass: the trace or stain of an event - a scatter of white, splayed, halo-like, as if flung or blasted outwards. Violently still. The image of it pressed up against your vision, taut and singular as a slap. A violence so bright and wrong against the slow drag of the room, the marshy sincerity of the last hour - that you could almost laugh. But the shock of it is somehow concurrent with an immediate and unquestionable understanding. It is inevitable. No before or how or why. It could not be other than itself. It’s as if it displays, nakedly, all that it could be - the full possibility of itself - resolute, total, all at once. 

 

It fills you with a kind of glum longing. You’d like, somehow, to live inside this constancy. Paused, pinned, in the centre of the room, coat and scarf bundled against your chest like some lumpy, oversized toy. But now that you have stood up, you have set in motion the sequence of your exit. The room is overly warm. Amber lamplight thickening against darkening glass. Faint intimation of his presence behind you, measuring your pause. And for a moment you wonder what it could look like - what it would mean - to stay. To refuse to leave. What act or gesture would this require from your body? - what speech? - what intervention from him?  But this is outside the grammar of your character. You turn to thank him, and your voice swings unexpectedly: girlish, saccharine, wrong. He does not rise to open the door. You go. 

The person recognisable as me

Sublimation print on velvet, text

2021

The person recognisable as me is a digital reconstruction of a visual memory, using only images found via google searches. The image depicts a scene witnessed through a psychoanalyst’s window during a conversation in which, overly conscious of therapy cliches, all attempts at authentic expression felt like a disingenuous performance.

 

An accompanying text describes the encounter with the psychoanalyst, and explores how linguistic rules and aesthetic choices can begin to destabilise memory and identity, revealing frictions between a desire to create a ‘faithful’ account, and surrender to the constraints of the medium.

The title is taken from a short story by Clare Sestanovich called 'Old Hope'

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