Briney Breezes: The Sun-Baked Bruise

The grand daughter visits and each year they see less and less of her. She comes, tans, grows into early womanhood and sometimes isn’t seen for days.

 

Every once in awhile you can hear the popping of the tin sheet metal as it rebels against the screws which pursue it under the hot Florida sun. An un-salient wind pervades and the drool cakes into a powdery shell on the chins and lips of the octogenarians strapped to their porch rocking chairs. Flies darting in and out of their mouth as they slumber, pre-cursor to death and the inevitable groveling over the little inheritance money they have left to give, abandoning the city flat years ago to buy this trailer nestled into to the masses of other trailers baking in the hot Florida sun. The guilt of retirement leaving them as the gunshots followed on their way out of a rotten city metaphorically relieved as a piece of fruit called an apple.

The sundry investment and the summers with their granddaughter’s three-month visit, tantamount to a happiness they could not achieve previously as dog shit stuck to their heel’s from the city streets to become encrusted on the small bedroom floor carpet of their then young daughter’s childhood bedroom. The grand daughter visits and each year they see less and less of her. She comes, tans, grows into early womanhood and sometimes isn’t seen for days. What used to be collated into lethargic meanderings of communicable absences via “road trips” or “sleep overs” at the trailers of her friends, is now left abated for in silence as the bruises on her thin legs mount and the clothes that cover her body dismount into less and less coverings. The smell of cigarette smoke on her hair and the ineffable stain of sweat on a three days unwashed white American shirt with traces of lipstick smear around the collar suggest an alternate ending to the family comfort and eschewed safety net the grandparents thought they were promising their own children. The hot sun beams down on their brows first as farce, then as tragedy… more insulting than doing nothing at times or the misadventures of dressing up the family issues in a pretty little skirt to be adored next to a sour smelling birthday cake.

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… first as farce, then as tragedy… more insulting than doing nothing at times or the misadventures of dressing up the family issues in a pretty little skirt to be adored next to a sour smelling birthday cake.

 

Briney Breezes is a distinct and somehow discomfiting collection of images between Charles Johnstone and the tireless Aaron McElroy. The book, published on Sun Editions explores images of trailer park housing somewhat akin to a new topographic feel. I can’t help but think of an even more sun-baked version of Lewis Baltz. On the opposite pages, McElroy’s surreal and pantone visions of the female human body in contortions. Not all of the images are nude, but most are without signals of identity. No face, decapitated, without the potential mislead of facial recognition that would make these images somewhat more personable. It suggests a struggle between place, interior, and the goings on that could occur under the false hope of trailer park (not trailer trash) retirement communities. The nuance of these images promotes a possibility, not a necessity to read them in a Korine-esque investigation of a Gummo dystopia. For that reason, it is entirely successful at its attempts to promote a relative reading on behalf of the viewer. This is to say that to read these images together may conjure up the aforementioned possibilities, but that they do not demand they be read so. It is an imposition of self to see these images this way and asks the question of how we read images and why we are pre-programmed to read them as such. Highly recommended if you can find yourself a copy.

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Briney Breezes

Sun Editions

(All rights reserved. Text @ ASX. Images @ Charles Johnstone and Aaron McElroy.)

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