Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sweet molasses, broken wings and a slow death...

- In response to a curators question, as to why i make films... - SJ.Ramir

"I grew up as an only child. I lived with my mother in a small wooden house that was quite damp and got very cold during the winter. We lived close to a biscuit factory and a forest. Each day at a certain time, it seemed that the biscuit factory would release from a giant chimney into the air, the most amazing sweet molasses smell you could imagine. If we can agree that the sense of smell has the potential to trigger strong memories, then throughout my adulthood, the smell from fresh molasses most reminds me of my early years. 

Being so close to nature, I made friends with animals and insects. One day in our backyard I found a bee with a severed wing. It couldn’t fly off – all it could do was spin around in circles on the concrete beneath our clothes line. It wasn’t getting anywhere. I watched the bee for about ten minutes, struggle with the cruelty of physics, until I had an idea of super glueing its wing back on. I went inside and turned the kitchen upside down looking for a tube of glue that I knew was hidden somewhere in the cupboards or drawers. There’s a reason why super glue is dangerous in the hands of children. 

With the best intentions in the world, I went outside with the glue and set about helping the bee. I just knew that if I could get its severed wing back on, the bee could fly back home and live a long and happy life. 

I squirted out a puddle of glue onto the concrete next to the bee. I dipped the severed part of its wing into the glue and tried to attach it to the bee’s body – on the opposite side of other wing, but it didn’t help that the bee was spinning at a frantic pace and the glue kept running down the bee’s wing that I was holding and onto my fingers. I wiped my hand onto the side of my pants, but I forgot that I was holding the wing also, so the wing got stuck to my pants. I finally managed to peel it off my pants, but it was now torn in two places – and during the struggle of freeing it from my pants, it had become stuck to the end of my finger. I looked down at the bee and it had stopped spinning – probably out of exhaustion. Then I did what you could only excuse a young child for doing – I lost complete interest in the task at hand and walked off. 

Two days later, I woke up early in the morning and lay there in bed. I looked down at my hands and noticed that there were still bits of super glue on them and something unusual looking stuck to the end of one of my fingers. Then I remembered the bee. 

It was a particularly cold winter’s morning. The grass outside in the backyard was lightly covered in frost. The bee was where I had left it – on the concrete beneath the washing line, but completely lifeless and speckled in morning dew. I crouched down and studied it. Much of the bee had disappeared. There were a number of ants pulling at the remaining parts of the bee’s body. One ant had become enveloped by a small drop of dew and was attempting to fight its way out of the bubble of water. I prodded the bee’s remains and the ants went scurrying away to the edges of the lawn. I wondered about the bee. I wondered about what would fill the space that it had inhabited when it completely disappeared? What would happen to the energy and movement that it had once generated? I wondered many things about the finality of its life, but as a young child I didn’t have the vocabulary to verbalise it in a mental conversation with myself. Rather, I instinctively questioned its death in a rather hazy way, and with no real frame of reference. For many years after this, I wandered alone through the forest close to our house, searching for other dead creatures and insects, observing them after death, their stillness, their now irrelevance to the surroundings they once occupied. 

It seemed that death was a lonely path that could not be shared. I watched them as a spectator, but not without compassion..."