I don’t mind dust. I really don’t. Maybe this is a character flaw or maybe I just feel most comfortable when my surroundings are realistically messy. So much of life seems to be about presenting oneself as a polished human. Dust disrupts that illusion. Even the most put-together person has a dusty corner somewhere in his or her life. Just peer under that fancy sofa and you’ll be reassured.
I used to collect photographs of dust: dusty telephones, dusty chairs, dust clouds, etc. What I like about dust is that (when it falls) it’s egalitarian. The pictures I have show dust skimming myriad surfaces. Minuscule specks landing evenly. From high streets to factory neighborhoods, dust heeds no boundaries.
My friend, artist Cindy Mochizuki, enchanted me recently with her “Portraits of Dust.”
Here is what Cindy has to say about dust: “In that far region of wall meets closet meets forgotten mini dv cassette meets loose button meets crumpled receipt meets rusty penny meets old Xmas card from Auntie S, lives several generations of dust. I took the Swifter and securely fastened the Swifter Sweeper wet mopping cloths and swiped a whole flock of dust bunnies and other strange beasts into the dust pan. Because of the move, I am forcing myself to clean and throw out stuff thus witnessing the clumps and clumps of dust. It reminded me of the one afternoon when my dear friend S (who’s apartment in Toronto is as immaculate as a crystal palace with perfectly placed plants then bend into bows and such) came to decorate the apartment screaming in horror at the size of the dust bunnies. There they were hidden under beds, lined along the bottom of the heater, behind boxes unmoved for months. Goodbye dust! Bon voyage..but before you go I’ve drawn a family portrait of you all from memory….”
For those who love a dusty tome, I think you’ll enjoy the following: The Secret Life of Dust by Hannah Holmes, Dust: A History of The Small and The Invisible by Joseph A. Amato, and (the classic) Purity and Danger by Mary Douglas.