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From up the inlet

"The loss these dramas lament exceeds any of the stories told; it overflows from one story to another, it transforms and is never resolved. It is as if that history were dreaming itself through me by the effect of a transference. Born in the 'sphere of the moon,' my dream is also someone else's." 

(Stefania Pandolfo 1997)


Project Description

As Nana struggled to breathe her last night, we struggled with her. We found ourselves circling her. With our hands on her limbs, we comforted her through each wave of struggle. The entire week leading up to her last moments felt never-ending, yet at the same time everything wafted over us quickly and in a haze. We oscillated with her as she fought to take in air and release it, and we echoed words of encouragement and love in tandem. As she gasped for air, we held our breath. As she struggled to inhale, our breath too caught in our throats. And with her final efforts we were left in suspense as she left this world. 


When the memory of this scene pops up, uninvited, obliging me to relive the experience over and over at random, I sometimes imagine things differently. I envision a silky swirl of smoke rising from her mouth, giving shape to her spirit as it expands from her body; I picture it floating up above us in the room, as if she left before she could feel the labour of dying; I imagine the smoke reaching and dispersing in the space, multiplying and weaving into the different bodies nearby (human, plant, animal, and stone). 


This display shares a selection of images from the larger Kinship Collage project that began many years ago out of a fixation with death, dying and dreaming. Growing up in a family that does not follow predominant perceptions of death as something final, this project serves as a means of working through the sense of loss that accompanies physical death while exploring connection, communication and continuation beyond the body. With a focus on particular land, women and substances, I’m exploring where we come from and where we are going—from up the inlet and back. 

About the Artist

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