15 parts: 15 x 10”
Oil on linen.
I leave the studio late, usually after 2 or 3 am. I can’t go right to bed, so I often take long walks at night, both predator and prey, watcher and watched. There is a serene quietude in the sleeping world, but also an incessant, buzzing brutality (viscous insects, nocturnal predators, serial killers, incurable drunks, night terrors, adulterers, sex, secrets and darkness—literal darkness). That coexistence of peacefulness and savagery echoes the duality inherent in the idea of “Rural Violence.” There is nothing like walking on a dense tree-lined street at night to remind me that people have secret hearts, that I can never know anyone, not even my closest neighbors, friends or lovers. And no one will ever know me. I will never surmount the wall of darkness, that endless night of consciousness, or of death. Have you ever noticed how unfamiliar a tree looks at three in the morning? Not sinister so much as primal—amoral and uncanny—rendering us strangers all.
Night Walk is a piece that depicts a walk I have taken many times near my childhood home in Maryland. This summer, I retraced the route, making pictures that document both geography and memory. As I teenager, I would sneak outside while my parents slept. No other end than the walk. I think night and forest will always be the birthplace of selfhood. Think how many milestones of adolescence (sex, drugs, rock and roll) happen outside, away from family and apart from civilization. This is the primordial landscape in which self-determination, illicit pleasure, deep secrecy and sexual awakening take root and become forever entwined. What I'm getting at is that there is an irrevocable connection between freedom and savagery—primitive freedom and primal savagery. I'm saying that violence, or perhaps animalism, is the dark side of independence, of the abandon that one searches and finds beyonds the perimeter of urbanity, in darkness, in forest and in field. After all, there is no landscape more rural, nor more violent than the open field of the human heart.