The Wall, it does not move: A Photo Essay

Real radicals, we might conclude, make things. I borrowed those words from someone. I’ll say who later.

I made this photo last year in Peru. I was sitting in the dog zone of Raimondi Park on the bluff that edges the city of Lima and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

To photograph people is to violate them. I borrowed those words from someone. If you don’t know already, I’ll say who later.

The sun was really bright that day. It was hot, but a breeze kicked up enough for long pants and kite boarding lessons. The brick wall spanned the coast longer than I could walk. And it never moved. But the people moved. They moved a lot.

The people walked. They skated. They watched. They spoke. They made smoothies, music, and secrets. As I walked, I found people kissing under an 8-ton (-ish) statue of people kissing. The ocean sloshed, the breeze slowed, and I walked. The grass was wet, and the sun kept on. There was a booth with young muscle-clad men and music, beer, slogans, bright smiles, and money. Here you could sign up for the kite board.

You can’t see him in this photo, but I have others that show a man running by. He looks back on Lima not out at the ocean. The brick wall does not move. But a another man, on the beach side of the brick wall, looks at the man running.

A dad walks with his toddler son who rides a bike. He isn’t helping the young lad. He isn’t smiling in delight. He isn’t coaxing him with laughter. He looks at his cell phone while the boy rides his little trike – bag of groceries and all. The kite board floats in front of them. And the brick wall does not move.

But people jump over the brick wall. A 20-something-year-old young man risks soiling his pretty intentionally-faded-in-just-the-right-spot jeans and white t-shirt to make the leap.

I sit with my back against a palm tree, legs out in front of me, and take a photo of my running shoes, the young man who jumps the wall, and another 30-something-year-old man who walks tall down the boardwalk. The wall does not move.

 

A mom in her backpack and her 11-year-old son walk left. A 20-year-old young woman walks right.

She has on short shorts and movie star sunglasses. The palm trees sway in the breeze, people come and go from the benches, the kite rises up and falls down, two young boys are propped up on the wall by their mother who walks alongside her own mother, more people walk by left and right, rollerblades make that faster for some, lovers stop at the wall to talk, a dog trots by, the kite falls and deflates, the sprinklers come on, and I get up to follow the dog. The wall does not move.

Notes: The quotes above that I did not give due credit to come from Ian Bogost [Real radicals, we might conclude, make things from Alien Phenomenology] and Susan Sontag [To photograph people is to violate them from On Photography]. Quoting but leaving the credit out is typically seen as unconventional and rude, but sometimes I like to play with people’s words without all the baggage [good, bad, simple, or complex] that comes with their name. I will always tell you that I’m doing it so you can look for the reference.

 

Eat Know Sing Organizing Voice. Academic. Everyday person. Fellow curious soul. PhD Candidate in History, University of British Columbia.

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