Friday, June 27, 2008

San Francisco: The Basket Case

Today, an oppressive fog. Or smog, from the fires north and south. The Dow plunged. A barrel of oil reached a new high. When the mail came, our water bill was $833.99, which--yes--we're looking into. So I've retreated into the baskets. The Dale Chihuly baskets I saw at the De Young Museum yesterday. The magical baskets.

To describe the installation is like trying to recreate water or heat. Or like trying to explain intuition or a fleeting memory. There was darkness, there was light, transparent color, there was one floating form, and then another. I believe it was Sontag who said photography is a secret within a secret. I felt the same about the line of baskets, with their sister baskets, woven, incised, stacked, nested, cradled. They were like bubbles of a past I couldn't quite grasp. Like a word I could see but couldn't recall.

I remember my father coming back from the farm with an arrowhead in his hand. I remember standing by the little mound of earth in the woods and knowing that underneath there were pot shards and charred bits of some past lifestyle, but to scrape beyond the surface would somehow mar the moment as well as the past. This is how I felt when I saw the baskets, warped, cradled and stacked--they were a reflection of a reflection. I wanted to cry for a memory that I couldn't possess but could filter through my hands, just for an instant.

At home, I checked my email and learned that a tree had fallen on one of the rental houses in Kentucky. Cleo was crying for a walk in the park. There was dinner, the gym. But I was lost along the cradled baskets, in a color called 'tabac,' a woven line, following a link to nowhere and everywhere.

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