Some pieces from Sean's new What Are Defenders series were featured in a show at Kidd Yellin Gallery (curated by Work Gallery) that opened on September 11, 2010. Yes, that was the date (that one's just out of place). We were so happy to see friends and family including Liz, Mike and company, Jeremy, Shariffa, Masa and Maggie, Damijan and the illustrious Monique, who graced us with her presence on the very week her amazing new novel came out.
We took Magnolia for the first hour and she was immediately drawn into Richard Oliver Wilson's bubble machine, perched atop Yellin's hulking yet elegant old printing press in the doorway of the warehouse, that was sending larger-than life-size bubbles out into the sinking sun at the edge of Red Hook. As she wobbled and skidded to and fro, chasing, popping, jumping at and into shiny orbs, following ponderous glowy globes as they morphed one into another and alighted on the floor, turning to half-moons, as they increasingly took on a supernatural outline from the falling sunlight, I noticed a beautiful thing: she would every so often turn in the direction of the bubble contraption, and stand still and wait. Then she would reach out both hands, turn palms up to the sky, and wait for the bubbles to come. The upturned palms would then cup the air and the fingers would beckon, gimme...come here, those so-sweet fingers we've watched grow from fetus to baby to girl. "Come over here, bubbles, I'mmonna getchyou," the fingers said. "But I'll wait patiently," the stillness of her body said. I was struck by the quiet and mournful and spiritual nature of the pose, and considered the phenomenon of a 20-month-old child raising hands as if praising something or Someone. I whipped out my phone and started snapping a painful amount of pictures, telling myself the whole time, "how ridiculous, to need to document this much, to take so many pictures of my child," but all along never coming close to capturing the bubbles or the golden light or the otherworldly joy on the face of my daughter. The phone camera simply wouldn't do justice to this unbelievably lovely scene in our lives. Dalton, a talented photographer, offered some solutions to this problem. I chatted away with him and others, but all the while I kept doing what I consider pretty rude (even to photographers?): snapping pictures. Was that as bad as texting while having a conversation? Worse? All I could process was that my daughter was tasting heaven and I was trying my best to see through her eyes and behold just a touch of the glory she was feeling. I knew Sean had brought his Real Camera and I tried to get his attention to find out where it was. Later I found it in the bottom of the stroller . . . it stayed there all along, never used by either of us, even throughout this insane display of light and joy, never even then. I kept seeing her body go still with palms upturned, fingers curling sweetly, back and forth. I was riveted--this looked not only beautiful and amazing, but very much like something that I knew well but could not place. When I asked MaryAnne, she said The Red Balloon. Yes yes of course, that wonderful film that is over and under and through everything I ever do, that one, yes. But that wasn't it. That body, prone, straight, not moving, but waiting, standing, looking. Those hands, upturned. I couldn't place it.
Until I was riding home on my bike (every time I ride my bike at night in Red Hook I ask myself why I haven't done this every single night of the five years I've lived in this lost and broken land by the sea). That's when I discovered what it was. My daughter was re-enacting her father's animated film that he made about his father. She stood still, waiting for those bubbles, exactly as Sean had stood when those bubble-like dots came out of his hands and heart, and floated up toward the sky, toward the ghost of his father, toward the future and the past, in his film Father/Son. I've posted both images so you can see for yourself. If you'd like to see Sean's film, I guess you'll have to ask him.