Friday, 14 September 2012

Stolen Moments Stories 03

Yasmine Chatila is back to share another diary extract from her surveillance project.

Stolem Moments © Yasmine Chatila

9:45 Greenwich village, September 10, 2012

Tonight I need to make order. I sit before a million different windows lit with life. They all have a powerful draw and I need to create a filter. A different way to slice the information, a different cross section of reality, to see if a new facet is revealed. I decided that I will only observe women for the rest of the evening.

The first window my lens fall upon is of a woman sewing while wearing a gray silk negligee, she is concentrating so much that her entire body seems to be at the service of her string and needle. The light is framing her from above. If I had hired her and staged her she could not be more perfect or better lit. It's pretty ironic that in a city where we, as women, are in competition with men for control and power still end up sewing in our silk negligees. Maybe that is why she is so determined about her needle, she will sew better than any one has sewn before, better than her grandmother or her great grandmother before that. That is how we are.

A giant Harvard poster hangs on the wall, it takes up half the space on a pretty brunette's bedroom wall. She is efficiently folding laundry and I get a feeling she is enjoying it.

A few floors down and two windows over is a woman lying in a twin bed with hospital blue sheets. She has a stuffed white polar bear next to her, her blanket carefully tucked on each of his sides. She has something small in her hands, I can't see what it is but she is staring at it very intently. There is a crucifix above her bed, it is ruby in color and it matches her equally ruby hair. A painting of a rural landscape hangs above her bedside lamp.

In another building near by there is a woman carefully drying her face, she is blotting not rubbing, I admire her discipline. Blue bottles shimmer in the electric light. Such an artificial color and yet it reminds me of the Caribbean sea that is so far from our muddy city waters. She opens a jar of moisturizer, and begins to vigorously moisturize her face. She looks like she is praying, rubbing away her sins, asking for redemption.

A blond with red rimmed glasses stares at herself in the mirror. Her apartment is full of plants and a dart board hangs proudly in the center of her living room.

A woman sits in a rocking chair. The yellow lamp illuminates the back of her neck and chair. I know this place, the smell, it is all incredibly familiar, yet I've never met her . She must be 75 or 80 years old. She rocks her chair next to the window as she would if she lived in a country house or next to the sea and was listening to the sounds of crickets at night. She is listening to sirens, chatter and the endless stream of cars. I wonder what she is really hearing?

A woman sits on her bed, she is staring at the wall across from her. I sit with her in silence as she stares.

A very thin brunette with beautiful skin is cradling a man, he's got his hands all over her, she is in control.

A blond middle aged woman stares at her tv set. She looks as though she is dressed for the opera. The room glows with red light as her face turns green and turquoise from the tv, there is something regal in her posture.

A young woman peeks at me from behind her curtain, she could not know I can see her. Clearly she is playing with the idea that someone out there could be watching her. She is naked, and not a day over 15. She is trying on different outfits and posing in front of the mirror. She turns around again, facing me directly, I wonder if she can feel someone watching her. I feel guilty and turn away as the night gets denser and more irreversible, and the windows fade to black one by one.

Yasmine Chatila (Foam Magazine #22/Peeping)


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