Preface to Drawbridge
I am sitting in bed writing this, my back to the wall that separates my room from the street by only a brick’s thickness. The sky is just beginning to lighten, and the heat of the previous day lingers on my skin and over the only-now quiet street. I hear water streaming in the gutters, and recall the sounds of kids splashing in the spray from the fire hydrants that the grown-ups open up on hot days, turning all of Bushwick into a sort of ghetto Venice. I think of canals and of capillaries – the channels through which sustenance flows and travelers navigate, though which pollution spreads and poison disperses. Water drips from the pressed-tin ceiling; silhouetted in the lamplight and scuttling along the walls are silverfish, waterbugs, roaches, moths. Outside, there are cigarette butts in the tree pits, and trees growing through chain-link fences. Nothing is discrete. Words and images mingle in my mind, bleeding into one another, forming a unique ecology, a neighborhood in which I dwell.
I have pondered for a long time the relationships between these internal and external landscapes – their parallels, their incongruities, the shifting bridges between them. It’s quite clear, especially to artists, that things are only significant in relation to one another. Our work consists of discovering, refining, and redefining relationships between colors, between discourses, between people, between ideas. What would the world be if its parts did not exist in all their particular relationships? What is a city if not web of intersections – street corners, culture clashes, family ties, stock exchanges? Who are we if not tangles of convergences –genetic combinations, chance encounters, neural networks, assorted small connective epiphanies? Our relationships, too, are junctures, and as such, spaces of both constriction and possibility. The writer Italo Calvino suggests that we can reconstruct the physical nature of the world with the “powder-fine dust of words”. I would add that we can also use this fine dust to illuminate otherwise invisible connections, which ensnare us no less for their obscurity. Upon revealing this unseen filigree, we can imagine new possibilities for its configuration. With our words, with our actions, with the images we craft, we continually dissolve and remake the connections that form our world, building bridges into other realities, reinforcing passageways between the gritty streets outside our windows and the portable dreamscapes so carefully folded inside the secret spaces of our hearts.