A few months ago I talked to a girl during a reception party. We were discussing her PhD thesis topic. For three years, she immersed herself in studying the invasive plant Fallopia Japonica. Isn’t it amazing, that you can pick one little detail from the world and spend a lifetime exploring it?, I said. She took a sip from her prosecco, staring at me with wonder.
I’ve always loved peeing in nature. It is one of those fundamental childhood experiences of feeling connected to wilderness, even though we do not realize it at that time. Running around all day long, we were too busy to go home and pee, and so we did it wherever we happened to be at the moment. I vividly remembered moments like these: squatting in the bushes or in parking lots, mouth open, eyes turned up toward the sky or trees rustling in wind, feeling a warm stream coming out between my legs, only to be soaked up by the dry earth or finding its pathways through a maze of little rocks and twigs. My little hand searching for a good leaf to wipe myself. A good leaf was definitely an issue when we were kids. Burdock was the best one, because of its size, although it was a little prickly.
During my art residency in Nida, following Susan Sontag’s list, I chose urinating as the next thing to explore. And so for some time, the act of outdoor urinating became my mission.
Urinating became a project.
After a month spent on the peninsula, walking its width several times, I knew almost every pine forest patch and curve of the shoreline. So when it came to choosing the right location for my video with a urinating scene, I had several spots in mind. I tried them all. My idea was simple. I was imagining myself squatting, against some perfect and visually impressive background. But you won’t find my vagina in this video. That’s not my way. What I imagined instead was my torso from waist up, my back facing the camera, rays of the evening light showering golden light upon the beautiful pine forest in front of me. That way, in the very moment of me urinating, I was not going to be THERE.
I can romanticize everything. Urinating is no exception. The rules were following: I had to remember not to pee before leaving the house. In the forest, I would set up my camera on the tripod so it would frame the perfect section of the forest. Then I would check to see if anybody was around who might surprise me. I stood in front of the camera. Enjoying the forest view while unzipping my jeans, I squatted down, allowing for the pine trees to fill up the frame. The golden light made the spider webs stretching out between them so perfectly palpable.
And while not being THERE, in the film frame, I felt so very present, feeling the stream of warm urine in between my legs, soaking into the incredibly fragrant forest bed, into soft layers of pine needles.
"Urinating" is a part of my ongoing art project titled "FIRES VENICE TEQUILA SUNSETS", a series of short essays, videos and photographs, inspired by Susan Sontag's published diaries.
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