Contamination (8): Camille Rose Garcia, Kim Hyesoon and the Super-Saturation of the Girl

by on Jun.10, 2011

I wrote a piece for the web journal Burnaway about Camille Rose Garcia


In the paintings, little girls are particularly prone to saturation, to leaking and infestation of poisons. This seems correct to me: the girls as figures of possession and saturation. I also agree with the way Garcia doesn’t set up nature as the opposite of artifice, as so often is the case in environmentalist fables, fables that tend to fit into easy models of nature as an untouched goodness we need to return to. In Garcia’s work, animals often are on the side of exploitation, and nature itself seems highly artificial: there is no happy, safe Natural to return to. Instead what you have is something akin to what my wife Joyelle McSweeney, talking about Jack Smith, Sylvia Plath, and others, has called “the necropastoral.”

In many ways, Garcia’s work reminds me of Korean poet Kim Hyesoon’s writing, for example:

“The Road to Kimp’o Landfill”

Cut my hair short again
I don’t want to pull out
the names etched onto my hair that grows daily
As rain fell, garbage bins from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th floor
must have been turned upside down
Hair fell profusely
I kissed in a place where garbage came down like rain
I kissed where I vomited all night long
Every time I sang, vomit flew in
I turned the garbage bins upside down in my room
and had morning sickness, then had a smoke
My poetry books burned
Three hundred million babies were born
One hundred million of the young and the old died
The day I took the pills
I walked out the gate in the middle of my bath
Black plastic bags flew higher than a flock of sparrows
The discarded sewing machine was like the head of a horse
The sound of Mother’s sewing machine
filled the holes in my body one by one
I tore off my swollen breasts and tossed them
beneath Mother’s foot on the pedal
A forest gave off a foul smell, carried contagious diseases
it burned of fever during the night
A busboy at brightly lit Motel Rose
threw out millions of sperm every night
From the forest, mosquitoes swarmed
and dug into my scrawny caved-in chest
Born in the 20th century, I was on my way
to die in the 21st century

Here we have media running the same way through bodies and the environment, with the key figure of the girl with the perforated body, through which art pours.

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