A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

I remember the shapes and sizes of the water taps
Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Alexandria 1988



There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.

I meditate in the bath. The water needs to be very hot, so hot you can barely stand putting your foot in it. Then you lower yourself, inch by inch, till the water’s up to your neck.

I remember the ceiling over every bathtub I’ve stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colors and the damp spots and the light fixtures. I remember the tubs, too: the antique griffin-legged tubs, and the modern coffin-shaped tubs, and the fancy pink marble tubs overlooking indoor lily ponds, and I remember the shapes and sizes of the water taps and the different sorts of soap holders.

I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath.”

Sylvia Plath —The Bell Jar, Chapter Two



You take about 50 photographs of a beautiful woman in a tub and you pick one for a show. Years later you go back to take a look and you notice these. We do know that Sylvia Plath and Diane Arbus are connected by the fact that both committed suicide. Plath was a poet, novelist and short-story writer who put her head in an oven. Diane Arbus was a photographer known best for her "freaks" and the best portrait ever taken of Jorge Luís Borges. She died by slitting her wrists in a hot tub of water. I find it paradoxical that Plath found comfort in a tub and wrote beautifully about it.

Sometime in 1988 I went to see a punk band at Gary Taylor's on Howe Street. In a dark corner I spotted this young girl with a face that could have launched thousands of men to start smoking. Since I have never been shy about this things I approached her and that led to a couple of years of a photographic relationship where I began my personal obsession for the photography of women in bath tubs. 

I look at these pictures and marvel at the human face. How can a pair of eyes, one nose, a mouth a couple of eyebrows all result in this remarkable and haunting face? I will never understand the photographer who is attracted to the landscape when the landscape of a human face can be so much more interesting simply because I can never really pin down what may be behind those eyes staring at my camera.

Years before I had known a dancer at the Number 5 Orange called Snow who had a look similar to Alexandria. I would often describe to my friends that Snow was the kind of woman you would see getting off a Flxible Continental Trailways bus in a small West Texas town in the middle of a hot  summer afternoon. She would have been wearing a white gingham dress, high heeled shoes and carrying a cheap cardboard suitcase. When I see such faces it is easy for me to understand why all those Greeks fought a war over the face of a woman.



     

Previous Posts
Monopsony - My Ennui & Weltschmerz

What Is New Music? Why I Listen To It

That Floozy In The Tub

In Summers Heate And Mid-time Of The Day

Sullenly & Silently Over The Fragments Of The Hous...

Carmen Aguirre - A Pasionaria

Isabel Allende At Age 18

Carmen Aguirre - A Chilean Bombshell

El Espejo - Carmen Aguirre's Search Of Vision Man

Infinity (∞), An Insipid Equivalent Of The Unfinis...



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10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17

7/2/17 - 7/9/17

7/9/17 - 7/16/17

7/16/17 - 7/23/17

7/23/17 - 7/30/17

7/30/17 - 8/6/17

8/6/17 - 8/13/17

8/13/17 - 8/20/17