• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07


Lately I’ve been thinking about portraits. The stillness demanded of us.

I have a friend who is taking photographic portraits from a distance. It is the necessary distance. She does not go closer; this is her approach. The faces are not as important as the pose, as the background, as the light. They are portraits that bear individual names, but they are not portraits of people; they are portraits of distance itself.

Where the photograph is simultaneity, the painting is duration. A record of looking, a tracing of time. No portrait can be serendipitous to be true.

The desired proximity. The full body? No, the face, close up. Feet can only take you so far, and what is a torso for but posture? Just the face, unfurrowed. Facial recognition technology of the ancients, innocent; a record of existence. A face whose name doesn’t matter. A face beyond reproach.

For a face beyond time, in time, a look—buried, a mummy beneath, a mother behind. A body, contained. A distillation of years—how many? Too many, or not enough? Time is both countable and uncountable.

Time is a kind of distance. They say we will be better, when the distance is bridged. When we can move, when we can see up close again. But the technology of seeing remains. The eyes of the portrait, unchanged.