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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Elizabeth Hibbard - Dear Mili

Oct 02, 2019

I make work in order to communicate that which is eternally present, painful, and contradictory about being female-bodied, and self-reflexively, how this particular mode of embodiment and subjectivity is intrinsic to the photographic process itself. My most recently completed project is titled Swallow the Tail, culling from a Scottish proverb I heard often growing up from my mother, who heard it from her mother, and so on: “If you swallowed the cow, don’t choke on the tail”; The project describes liminal space between self and (m)other, physical and psychological, intimacy and isolation, consumption and expulsion, desire and revulsion. I am concerned with how the construct of femininity is unreflectively inscribed, not just socially, but from within the space of the family structure— especially as it is mediated within the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship. In my more recent work, I am in the beginning stages of attempting to integrate these concepts with concerns and themes around environmental and reproductive anxiety, medicalization of the body, group psychology, and the ideological distinctions between the body and the flesh.


Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Swallow the Tail

Oct 08, 2019 - Elizabeth Hibbard

My mother used an idiom often when I was growing up that her mother had used often; it had been passed down from her grandmother in turn, a Scottish immigrant in the early 19th century.

 

If you swallowed the cow, don’t choke on the tail. 

 

It was a mantra, one that I came to associate with a certain flavor of unspoken female masochism.

 

There’s pride in the ability to suffer through something without any outward betrayal of pain. 

 

When asked if hungry, always answer no, regardless of the ache in the stomach. 

 

This is goodness. 

 

Can I dig the goodness out, separate the fascia from the soft tissue, wet with white blood cells under the fingernails, and look at it? 

 

Does hunger take a shape?


Kindergarten

Oct 07, 2019 - Elizabeth Hibbard

He has always delighted in pronouncing the word Kindergarten in German.

 

Looking at his photographs of the girl, I feel the shameful burn of looking on my skin and the titillation.

 

A camera is a great tool for emotional distancing. 

 

He always talked at me, through her; it doesn’t really matter who the path of speech winds its way towards, he knows the of cadence of delivery that pulls on heartstrings and alludes to an otherworld.

 

Kin- der-gar-ten,  eyes glossed over, elsewhere.

 

A garden for children, where all the girls are dewy flowers in the sunlight, a white fence to hold them still.

 

I only have two voices, a feral growl or a high-pitched bell. 


Self Portrait Taken By My Mother

Oct 05, 2019 - Elizabeth Hibbard

Monique Wittig makes me feel called out:

 

“But you know that not one will be able to bear seeing you with eyes turned up lids cut off your yellow smoking intestines spread in the hollow of your hands your tongue spat from your mouth long green strings of your bile flowing over your breasts, not one will able to bear your low frenetic insistent laughter. “

The Lesbian Body. Pg 15. Monique Wittig, Translated by David Le Vay, William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York ,1975.

If I could pull every root from the soil then I might know, if there was anything left or just dry dirt with the nutrition and sapped up in beating sunlight.

 

This gaping hole, left by the clump of roots pulled up was something she gave me, it isn’t much but it is mine mine mine mine mine.

 

and it is part of her and the distinction between weeds and becoming gets more and more obscured. I am now almost the age she was when she first transformed into a mother.

 

how do you want me to look

 

And I sit her behind my camera. I take my shirt off. I gaze into the blue iris. She protests and begs and recoils initially at the curtain pulled back and the keys to the car handed to her.

 

And she drapes a curl of hair over my shoulder with one withered finger, and it brushes over my nipple. See me see me see me I entreat silently. She directs me in the scene, chin down, eyes up, smile for me, with your teeth, my baby girl.  It feels so good to not think about it again, to let the roots burrow in the brittle earth.

The photograph looks absolutely nothing like me.

 

My mother is devoted to her yard, it is where she flagellates herself. She rakes oak leaves behind the house all summer into bins that get taken every Thursday at dawn, their dried and spiny hulls will pierce into your skin if you don’t have proper callouses.

Just a few more.

 

Walking into the neighbor’s house, they stick into the soles of my feet. I am proud when they ask about it.”


Sublimation

Oct 04, 2019 - Elizabeth Hibbard

Iodine is an element on the periodic table, which gives it some sort of alchemical symbolic weight in my mind. The process by which is converts from a solid to a gas is called sublimation. 

As in, Sublime.

I found myself rewatching Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film, Stalker, over and over last semester while considering how environmental destruction can be represented; how to talk about this liminal place of fear by maybe by indulging in Tarkovsky’s post-nuclear vision of the misanthropocene.

The sepia world reminds me a lot of the color of the iodine solution I’ve been working with, a sterilized world outside the zone. 

In trying to start researching iodine and where it comes from, how we obtain it from the earth, I found my first point of complication. The brownish liquid that I think of as Iodine is technically tincture of iodine, usually only  a small percentage of elemental iodine, along with potassium iodide, dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and water. Iodine, alone, as an element, is of course that beautiful violet like in biology class when you make slides. I’d somehow made peace with the idea that iodine could both be ochre and violet in my subconscious this entire time. Purple and orange being opposite one another on the color wheel, they do feel perhaps like sides of a coin, one being the shadow of the other.

In 1982, 3 years after Tarkovsky released Stalker, The FDA approved the use administration of potassium iodide to protect thyroid glands from radioactive iodine in nuclear accidents. it works by essentially occupying space in the the thyroid before the radiation can, it fills the space to protect from something invisible invading your body and mutating it. 

After the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in April, 1986, potassium iodide was administered as a radiation protective agent to  17 million people. 

Tarkovsky, along with several members of his crew, later died relatively young from a rare form of lung cancer. A hypothesis is that the location exposed them to radiation poisoning due to the shoot’s proximity to a toxic chemical plant.

This is often mis-relayed that they shot in proximity of the site of the Chenobryl Nuclear Disaster, and that radiation poisoning is what killed Tarkovsky. 

Stalker was shot in Chenobryl, but seven years before the disaster. 

When it is combined with silver nitrate, potassium iodide results in silver iodide, a highly photo-sensitive compound that serves as the basis of the magical properties of traditional analogue photography, a form of alchemy, the sublime.

 

 

 

 


Iodine

Oct 03, 2019 - Elizabeth Hibbard

When I was four, I picked up my grandmother’s cat, George, a bit too roughly probably, and he bit me in the cheek; four clean puncture wounds to the inside of my mouth. Aunt Mary lived with my grandmother still, she never moved out, and was a hoarder. A small area was cleared on the formica countertop and from a shelf brimming with orange prescription bottles, a dark glass bottle of strange smelling amber liquid was applied to my wound. 

 

I felt doubly betrayed by my grandmother being the source of the painful stinging, and was confused and fearful of the brownish, unfamiliar, and like many things in my grandmother’s house, impossibly old and decay laden, liquid. It was a long time until I knew what it was, and the smell and sting and sense that it was the opposite of anything clean and sterile has always lingered.

 

My father used to clean the counters with rubbing alcohol. The smell still makes me nauseous and fearful but at least you know the counter is really, truly clean. We didn’t keep iodine bottles around the house like at my grandma’s.