Damp smell rising mist distant crow bare skin cold water wiry hair a flickering shadow a tattoo dirt between fingernails toes covered in moss a footstep imprinted on green the sound of bodies scraping branches breath hanging in the air pale fingers deep emerald flesh. Rocks.
We see the bush through her eyes
Yet she herself cannot see.
Her hands are raw,
Red around the tips of her fingers.
The rest of her body is in darkness except for a line captured by a rare ray of moonlight through an aperture in the canopy. Mud and shadows are mixed. Her outfit is white but smeared with earth and there is a band across her eyes made of the same cloth.
Blindfold me. I surrender to you. Lead me.
She has chosen not to make a decision.
To do so she has closed her eyes.
From a different direction a breeze infiltrates the leaves. There is a sudden chill, a faint smell of smoke, a rising rush of wind, particles of ash. The air changes.
We don’t know if she is alone. We cannot tell whether the shapes, bodies, limbs and skin are hers or the increasingly humanlike branches of trees, ferns and scrub.
Líbera me, Dómine, de morte ætérna, in die illa treménda.
Quando cœli movéndi sunt et terra.
Dum véneris iudicáre sǽculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et tímeo, dum discússio vénerit, atque ventúra ira.
Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitátis et misériæ, dies magna et amára valde.
Dum véneris iudicáre sǽculum per ignem.
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
They join her as companions and accompany her on this journey led by what she hears. She navigates her mind, a great cathedral of caves and ridges ornamented with roots and the trunks of giant trees.
Corymbia Eximia (Yellow Bloodwood)
Corymbia Gummifera (Red Bloodwood)
Angophora bakeri (narrow-leaved apple)
Eucalyptus Beyeriana (Beyer’s Ironbark)
Eucalyptus consideniana (Yertchuk)
Eucalyptus punctata (grey Gum)
Eucalyptus pilularis (Blackbutt)
Angophora Costata (Sydney red-gum)
Eucalyptus agglomerata (blue-leaved stringybark)
Syncarpia glomlifera (Turpentine)
Blindfolded, this woman is led into the bush. She can hear and smell and feel but she cannot see and she will not speak. She surrenders to her fate and listens without judgment. She carries with her the burden of memory and the burden of fear but she is not afraid. She allows herself to be vulnerable. There is no way back. No escape. No help. She accepts that.
Her mind is filled with the sound of near and far, the smell of life and death, the sense of light and dark. She feels warm and cold but she is not afraid.
arms a back legs genitals a wound a nose a face a lump a tattoo an ant a spider’s web
Phylidonyris novaehollandiae (New Holland Honeyeater)
Melithreptus brevirostris (brown-headed honey eater)
Lichenostomus melanops (yellow-tuffed honeyeater)
Anthochaera carunculata (red wattlebird)
Phylidonyris citreogularis (Little friarbird)
Philemon corniculatus (Noisy friarbird)
Strepera graculina (Pied currawong)
Playcerus elegans (Crimson rosella)
Trichoglossus moluccanus (Rainbow lorikeet)
Ptilonorhynchus violaceus (Satin bower bird)
In each hand she balances lore and progress, nature and destruction, nurture and obliteration, freedom and subjugation. One move and both sides shall tumble upon her. She knows that and accepts her fate. She surrenders.
Behind her, a treacherous sea and the Promised Land or a barren land. Before her is the bush, an open book in an ancient script to be deciphered.
The blindfolded woman surrenders herself. She says nothing. She is silent, ready to listen. Submitting to her fate, she is unable to speak or move. She accepts her situation with repose. Her arms are crossed against her heart. She is vulnerable out of her own choice. She allows herself to be judged. Behind her is a treacherous sea. There is no going back. No escape. No help. She knows this and will not fight.
(words by Kate Moore, photography by Nina Frankova 2016)