I am obsessed with water.
I was doing research about the numerous shipwrecks on Lake Erie
and looking at photographs of underwater exploration. These images
became connected with thoughts I was having about the futility of
measures of protection.
I nearly drowned in the Chicago River when my kayak was sucked under
a dam. As I was being pulled down a concrete chamber, certain that
I was going into a tunnel, I resigned myself to death and was instantly
overcome by a profound sense of wellbeing.
Under is a series of portraits of women lying with their heads on
the bottom of Lake Michigan. Once problems with the current, buoyancy,
and water rushing into ears and noses were overcome, the women reported
looking up at the camera and the sunlight wavering down at them,
and being overwhelmed by a feeling of calm.
I kayaked on the Chicago River, a notorious sewerage system with
run-off tunnels, a river beneath the river, and large subterranean
reservoirs. It is the modern equivalent of a watery afterworld.
My fantasy of drifting on the Styx was fueled by the red-eyed night
heron, and the rats scurrying in the shadows.
Night after night, I planted my tripod in the shallow surf of the
Lake Michigan, and squatted in my hip waders to look through the
ground glass. The photographs, mostly a product of guesswork, were
secondary to the experience.
The Silent Service
I found a patch for a uniform on the floor of Logan Airport two
weeks after 9/11. I discovered that it was for the USS Diablo, a
submarine that was commissioned in response to Peal Harbor. The
U.S. leased it to Pakistan in the 1960s, and it was renamed Ghazi,
which translates to Holy Islamic Warrior. It exploded during a confrontation
with India, and the eighty men on board were killed.