Inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California”
Back story: I started this series two years ago when my husband saved his garden crops from freezing. Faced with a pile of peppers, I made relish. It’s an annual harvest celebration that makes our house warmly smell of vinegar. Cutting the peppers in half, I was fascinated by their mysterious internal worlds. The seeds in some looked like teeth, other concavities were more sexual. Canning operations on hold, I went off to photograph a few choice red ones. Continuing this series, I’m inspired now by A Supermarket in California. Here's the first part of Ginsberg's 1955 poem (not the proper long line spacing):
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache, self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
Literary notes: A penumbra is a partly lighted area around any area of full shadow, as the moon, in full eclipse. One on-line analysis explains Ginsberg’s intent this way: The penumbras, a word meaning “shroud” or “partial illumination,” are meant to designate the secrets that such displays of nature and domesticity hide.
Technical notes: All my images in this series are photo transfers on to DASS™ Stone Paper, a heavy limestone and resin, waterproof substrate. I apply gel solution directly to the inked DASS™ film. Similar to Polaroid emulsion transfers, the “skin” can be stretched and pushed while it is still fluid. Each transfer has peculiar characteristics, just as
each of my subjects is unique by nature.