Vertices, Edition of 10, 2016.
Vertices was created in response to the novella Fantomina for the exhibition Just One Look, commissioned by Special Collections at the University of Washington Libraries.
The story revolves around a wealthy young eighteenth century girl who attends the theater in London and observes that the main event is the interaction between the men and women in the audience. She decides to get involved and attracts a man, not realizing she will be expected to have sex with him. She ends up falling in love, and the rest of the story revolves around the her changing her name, character and appearance four times to woo the same man, who is not content with one woman. She succeeds, gets pregnant, and her mother sends her away to have the baby in France so as not to disgrace her family. As I read the novella, I thought of the intersections that occur within relationships and came up with a series of familiar symbols that relate to these intersections: male/female; the symbol for love (the heart) which, when turned upside down and split in half becomes a pair of tears, i.e. heartbreak; the lock and key, representing issues of power; and the sperm and the egg, those invisible wonders that create life upon intersection. At each of these vertices, I thought about the choices and potential outcomes of any young woman exploring love for the first time.
The Book Comes in 4 Parts:
- Love in a Maze is a heart-shaped maze in four sections. The number four seems relates to the characters in the story; it also symbolized the luck found in a four-leaf clover, which the shape of the maze also suggests.
- The Book.
- The Fortune Teller –this particular story ends with the heroine getting pregnant and having to confess her relationship, which she has kept secret. The story goes that her mother sends her to France so that her family will not be disgraced, but I’ve suggested several other possibilities, which can be determined by opening the various pages of the fortune teller.
- The Envelope
The poem Vertex, which appears in the book, is by Sarah Kate Moore. It snakes through the pages, offering visual metaphors from a contemporary relationship yet relevant to the past as well. Here is the poem in full:
Ominously, fern spore, eggnest, bean husk (whelk, seed, swallowtail) organs of digestion and reproduction, fir, rosebud, decay
—teeth, eye, eyelash, emperor moth and his creepy wings— my wood pulp heart stop in their tracks.
Struck, for the first time, dumb, I know what love is now, rooted in your hands, hold me, I’m trembling.
A copper coin of moon, floating—moon jellies floating—disturbing image from a dream, endless shelves, a cellular engulfing.
The deepest fears (flood, fire, foxing, jaws of tiny insects, someone awful tearing into me with everyone watching) are present but stilled as you envelop me: longing: look!—longing.
Not long for this world, we both shoot and are shot through with it, you and I twin quartz veins in dull stone.
Egg cells, eggshells, and real stars are sewn on black cloth at the local bar: in the city of Seattle the night sky is sugared through with you, with you.
Flume of dye overtaking the ocean; phases of moon all happen in sequence; sky glorious red-purple from the filth we put in it.
Nabokov in his lepidopteron excess knew it—stone hole wheel miracle the result of a loved human brainflower, spooky, vertebral.
Looking at me the machinery of your eye is a wonder, a godcloud gaze, we’re ours, in this moment I am held in your hands, heart knocking like I’ve never been opened before.
The desire we feel: a diseased orb: a virus: who knows what’s inside us?
Longing reaching its fingers into everything.
Filaments of light from the white moon, let’s braid them, moths are caught in them.
Hold me for a moment against your lips like chenille, like a textured lattice, lacework.
Don’t ghost: don’t put me down now.
Pluto’s heart is receding faster and faster into the past.