I can’t remember why or how this came to pass, but it became my responsibility, my work, to take photographs of people and their yearnings, of how they reach out and connect or not, how they touch each other or not, all within the confines of a single walnut shell.
Finding the proper angles is difficult. I fear my pictures stand no chance of capturing all that transpires. Indeed, because the partitions divide the innards of a walnut shell into even tinier spaces, one person or another often isn’t accessible to my camera, even while they share an intimate space with another who may be fully or partially camera accessible.
When I’m done, I look and see that most of my pictures are of empty spaces, or partitions, or a solitary person, or merely a half person. Sometimes, the presence of another is implied, but my camera can’t see them.
I feel discouraged. Then I see that, despite the partitions, I’ve captured a handful of photos that show the connections among people within this intimate space.
I hesitate but then I share my photos with the occupants. At first they wonder, “Is that really us?” After reflecting, they exclaim, “You’ve seen us.”
A friend reminds me that Hamlet says to Gildenstern, “O God, I could be bounded in a walnut nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”
Often, we dream about what we can’t quite realize. I dream to work around the partitions within a walnut shell to capture images of how we connect, or try and don’t, or want to try but can’t, and of all that happens behind the partitions, out of sight, unknown, perhaps unknowable.