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this morning i dreamt about a most amazing man. he was a gay photographer who took pictures documenting his life with hiv & with his two moms. he had made his photographs into a no-talking documentary of his life, so the film was just a series of photographs fading & fuzzing into each other, with sparse music every now & then, & sometimes he had worked out a way to almost animate the photos so that parts of them would stand out, to emphasize certain aspects of the pictures.

the film was in five sections, which he called phases. after the third phase, there was an intermission, during which i went out to the lobby & talked with him. he had a rusty-colored beard & a weathered face, as if he'd been outdoors a lot recently. he looked tired, & stressed from the screening. i told him how much his photographs meant to me, & he confided that he was terrified to have people see phases four & five. when i asked why, he said he is terrified to watch them himself, because they document things he would rather not remember.

i was anxious about going back into the theatre for the last two phases. phase four began with very detailed close-up photos of his body, showing lesions & specifically focusing on how worn his skin looked. the photos moved very quickly from one to another. the whole film looked as though it had been tinted red, a rust color to match his beard. towards the end of that phase he was on a camping trip with his dyke moms, & the photos of them sitting together near a tent & campstove seemed perfectly content until the animation sort of thing began. as the moms were foregrounded & the background faded out, it became clear that they were fighting bitterly between themselves. subsequent photos showed the filmmaker, still bearded, weeping near the campsite & bleeding into a river.

watching these things in the darkened theatre, i was caught between feeling the anxieties & sadness & fear that were so clearly captured in the photos themselves, & marveling at the stark intensity & honesty of the silent narration.

i woke up before phase five began.


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November 2006

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