There is the mundane, there is the romantic, there is the unknowable, there is the familiar. It is foreign, it is the same.

A man shouts, “Welcome to Istanbul! Welcome to Hawaii! Welcome to the Caribbean!” I search the Grand Bazaar, looking for the quintessential, the archetypical, the reflexive moments, exploitable, subtle. I look for a way to look at myself, looking, consuming, exploiting. I find that I have a hard time seeing.

I wander the heavily touristed areas. I stare at the sky. I take photos of birds, water. I try to avoid the gaze of the city staring back at me. Although mostly it’s indifferent. I am barely a moment. I find comfort in peering out. From behind. Through. Always an obstruction to keep me from falling down, into, over.

Of two minds, I take the photos my father would love to see. All of the romance that is thwarted by life. I find complicated spaces with room for erasure. I refuse to obscure it all. I tell a joke, “My lens is so small.” I make myself laugh. I tell it again, a few times. So many times I forget it’s funny. It’s dead serious. It’s drained. It is my hand, it is always my hand. It could be your hand, but it’s most certainly mine.

Marie Alarcon



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