Written for At the Same Time (2012)
We are at the end of something.
A state change.
Water to vapour, dispersed in the air.
I think I am only able to sit and write this now because I have to. Because time demands it.
By chance (or perhaps not chance at all), I found a package yesterday, amongst a collection of things I had stored over a year ago. The package contained all of our photographs: Colin and Oisín's, Steven and Dylan's, Ted's and mine. Ted and I had collected them after the first showing of At the Same Time here in Edmonton. We sent them to the UK for the show in Manchester but after some trouble at customs, they were returned to Canada. Concerned about damaging the photographs, I left them wrapped in brown paper and postal stamps, just as when they had left. Written across the back of the package in shaky black marker were the words, “Photographs. Do Not Bend!”
I am surrounded by artifacts.
Now, more than ever, I struggle to understand love. I have never doubted its existence. Only the powers we give it. The unrealistic abilities we ask of it.
Years ago, when this project was just an idea, At the Same Time felt like such an appropriate title. We were six men in relationships that were new but familiar. We were all photographing our experiences in love, intimacy, sex and wonder. We had never met but through the internet had discovered a commonality. It seemed that love had synchronized us, as individuals, as couples and as a group.
Now years later, our experiences are so clearly different. Colin and Oisín are no longer together (I have difficulty now referring to them now as Quinnford and Scout). For me, their images are the hardest to look at. Harder than even my own. Steven and Dylan move forward, filling my head with mystery. I have met them both on multiple occasions but the photographs they share reveal wonders, parts of them I do not know. Like Colin and Oisín, Ted and I have separated. Ted is in New York and I am here. As with most of our challenges, we struggle quietly.
The internet pokes holes in the distance that separates us all. We monitor each other in various ways. Aware of some of the events in each other's lives. Oblivious to others.
In spite of the warning we wrote to ourselves, we have bent.
But the photographs survive. They persist. What once seemed so fragile, now seems impervious. Or is it the other way around?
When I emailed everyone, proposing this project, things were quite innocent. We were immersed in beginnings. At the Same Time was supposed to represent the parallels that I think we all recognized in each other. We were moving side by side, unrestricted by borders and bound by experience. Floating across surfaces and screens.
For me, At the Same Time now represents something else. I am living a life without Ted but I bring him with me. My experiences now are not overwriting my experiences with him. They live next to each other. We are always beginning. Always eating in Chinatown late at night. Always showering in Brooklyn. Always crying under bridges.
We are all building lives next to the photographs in this book.
And so I find myself trying to put the finishing touches on something that is unfinishable.
We are changing, each of us.
Nothing is predictable. Nothing is charted. But we move forward.
Not side by side. But at the same time.
Water droplets on surfaces and screens. Evaporating into the air.