It is a challenge to desire what you already have. This is true in love as well as in research. There may be multiple solutions to this apparent paradox. The first is that we may never consummate our desire, either for another or for knowledge.
(A black and white movie; two faces nearing one another; stopping; she (it is always she) wrests away; her eyes, glossy with tears).
The second is that we play a bit of a game. Instead of seeking answers or seeking to possess, we may choose to accept ambiguity. In research this may mean that our arguments are never water-tight. For something to be water-tight is to resist movement and flow and there is something exciting about leaks. To give a straight and complete answer is to completely still desire. To sort of look at it sideways, partially defining it and then providing gaps into which it may evade us, keeps it moving. This is the logic that, when I read a text that is tricky and elusive, keeps me coming back to it.
Last year I was falling out of love and obsessing over the fragments of Sappho’s poetry that survive only as a single word. “Celery!” Sappho miraculously and absurdly screams across a void of time and space, silence on either side of the word. "Celery!” Sappho miraculously and absurdly screams across a void of time and space, silence on either side of the word.
These words without their poems float context-less, completely at the whim of the relationship between time and oxygen and paper. I made a work for each of these words, trying to give them substance without stilling them or prescribing meaning unto them. Dawn became a polaroid of my then-partner’s hand gripping a square of reflective athletic fabric which catches the camera’s flash and reflects it back like a sunset on the water, held in the lips of a clam. Channel was the first audio from space, of a probe visiting Venus (known to Sappho as Aphrodite) on an iPod nano encased in a gauzy caul bejeweled with constellations of Swarovski crystals. Medeia turned into a stack of letterpress prints of all the “but” statement uttered by Medeia in Euripides’s play. She contradicts herself often and we are nothing if not our contradictions.
This project was my attempt at the sort of research I think is grounded in desire – a type of research that provides suggestions, suggests possible paths, but doesn’t figure anything out definitively. It’s not research that culminates in an answer. It culminates in another way of asking the question. I imagine it is infinitely iterative since after all, none of the objects are any more clear than the words from which they stem.