garden of earthly delight

A series documenting my grandfather, cartoonist Roger Martin, before his passing in October 2017.


Last Call
Minnesota, 2017

state of being
Documentation of Divorce, 2017

you are disappearing from me
Exhibited at Lingua Winter Launch Party, Seattle 2018

When attempting to reconstruct an ending, we often return to gestures, phrases, instantiations that may initially seem inconsequential but emerge in memory as proof, the apexes of our own conclusion. Yet for every stay against dissolution, we reach a point wherein language fails and leaves us in the slippery finality of an end/beginning. In the end, despite reconstruction, there exists no line leading backwards that we can unspool, and we are left with a bricolage of unrelated absurdities themselves markers of a time we cannot return to.

For this piece, I wanted to play with honesty/dishonesty, more specifically, with a dialectic of fact and myth enacted as a frame to go back and chart the endings of a relationship. I went over the entire body of texts between myself and a person I was seeing, then isolated specific lines that could be read as evidence of an ending after the eventual point of separation. The tension I wanted to play with was the liminal space wherein the words you say can/may be used against you when the circumstances change. In this, my own honesty is tested, as in relaying these instances I am presenting a myth based on my attempts towards coherence.

When presenting these lines, I wanted to avoid displaying them as isolated texts while still skirting the overtly personal aspect that would emerge from utilizing them alongside images or videos of our relationship. We often associate old images with a mythologized story akin to misplaced nostalgia for a time when life was simpler and/or purer, which is an imposition I also want to resist of a false narrative. Thus, to present the unspooling of our relationship, I decided to use the discord of images that intrinsically recall an illusory sense of time to be the backdrop for my textual reconstruction. I went back and found old photos in the public domain wherein I placed the script I wrote from our texts, utilizing the disjunctions between image/text as a form of frisson. Rather than being read as captions for a film that was never made, the lines move without coherence, only concomitant in their progression and the tenuous threads of an imaged history.

By presenting it this way, I avoid assigning names to the conversation unfolding and therefore resist consigning blame. While each line moves from myself to the other I am in reference to, as a form of grotesque dialogue, it is unclear who says what. In presenting the conversation without markers of self/other, I brush against the question of who is at fault without even gesturing towards what happened. What happened becomes less important than why it occurred. My own reconstruction becomes a myth, as inchoate as the relationship’s end, and the result is a project that merely confirms the loss of syntax that happens between two people who part ways.