Blog

This is my studio for exploring my work. Consider these drafts.

Color

I don't speak much about my work and what it means to me or what I want it to mean to others. I'm more concerned with just doing it. But for a while I've wanted to say something about people of color and their impact on what I do.

There's a lot to say and I guess if there's a time to start saying it, it's now.

I grew up in a place where there were no people of color. Movies and TV and music were the only venues where I encountered people that looked different from me, lived in different places, had challenges that I couldn't imagine.  

Over the last 5 years I've been so blessed to be able to encounter and photograph people that I could only have met by the intermediary of media before. I live in a place now where I am surrounded by people of every color. Going back now to places where that's not the case I feel uncomfortable, unsafe in some way.

There are the unbearably loud and fatal impacts of racism (as we can see almost daily), but I wonder what the impact must be of the omnipresent, inescapable knowledge that every time you are seen you could be seen as "less-than" when you are a person of color. I don't know what that feels like; I'm at a blinded white distance. 

For many people of color, choosing to be seen, to be conspicuous, takes courage: a courage I'm sure I wouldn't have. I'm so grateful to share with you these images of beautiful, courageous people. I'll continue to show you them because you need to see them and they certainly deserve to be seen. 

 
I am dark, daughters of Jerusalem,
and I am beautiful!
Dark as the tents of Kedar, lavish
as Solomon’s tapestries.
— Song of Songs 1:5
 

My secret song of independence

Every couple weeks I'd call,
"My shoot's running late,"
but instead of rushing home to pull a chicken out of the fridge
and listen to the story of someone else's day,
I'd hide out in the shops of Kemps Corner
pulling together a wardrobe for my new life
secreted home in my makeup bag.
A bikini dotted with butterflies.
A tulle skirt studded with sequins--
little constellations mapping the late night flight.
A vibrator, Brancusi-smooth freedom wand,
humming my secret song of independence.

After everyone had gone to sleep,
each piece would find its way into a valise
in the back of my closet.
A Samonsite nicked from the prop room
that reminded me of an old TV commercial
when suitcases seemed like a necessary accessory
to international glamour
like gold-tipped cigarettes or designer jeans.
Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins?

Do you know the name for the drippy, slippery, atomic bomb between my legs?
And the urge that sends my fingers reaching for the button
with increasing frequency?
As the birthday cards go unwritten,
and the self-help books on the nightstand collect dust.
Is it just a small strip of denim that I can easily cut away
to relieve the pressure of belonging to everyone but myself?


I've packed up months of scarves and courage and panties,
passport and coconut water provisions in hand.
Standing at the gate of my aluminum chrysalis,
for a 13-hour trans-Pacific metamorphosis,
I'm throbbing and pulsing with the orgasm of my rebirth.
I feel like vagabond go-go dancer, gyrating and panting in Terminal B,
my palms travel to my breasts, my hips,
and I give the ticket agent a little electric shock
as I hand over my boarding pass.

-Text by SM Simões

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by Balthazar Simões

It's summer now

Eat it up. You've been waiting for this.

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by Balthazar Simões

This always happens when we decide to look for words...

 

 You left a message,
“Grab some booze, I’m coming over."
So I did as told and
waited: 11, 12, 1 o'clock.
As I dozed off with a glass of melted ice,
the phone rang,
“you home?"
“yeah"
“Good” 
5 minutes later, the door buzzer dopamine thrill  
shot through me, and I ran down
8 flights of stairs because waiting for the elevator
would’ve killed me.
I leaned in for your neck
and met your leather shoulder barreling past.  
You pushed the lift button
and pulled off your shades. 
I saw those eyes cocked like fists
spoiling for a fight. 

 

Upstairs I poured a couple fingers
as you pulled out some records.
Aaron Neville pleaded from my speakers
as I sang along from my dirty futon.
Your silence threw an uppercut to my ego.
A long exhale like a sucker punch
to my solar plexus.
I intercepted a stony stare with
a palm landing gently on your spine,
and we both sat there like strangers
at a reiki clinic. 

 

This always happens when
we decide to look for words
for our 2am encounters,
our 9am Bellinis,
and the occasional 4pm “i miss you” 
that carries us forward from week to week. 
The words for what compels me
to set my teeth upon your cheekbone, 
for you to paint my thighs
with your lips.
Words that make sense of all the waiting in between.

 

Finally one gauntlet drops to the ground,
“Please,"
you whisper into my hair.
“let me be with you when I'm not here."
So you light a cigarette, 
put on some Dr. John,
and reach for a camera.

Text by S.M. Simões. Model: Jes Davis

The pleasant, painful thaw

I put my fig trees out today in hopeful anticipation of summer fruit. They had been cramped up for the winter, biding their time in the dark attic. 

Soon there will be butterflies and exuberant colors, I'm told.

For now let's thaw a bit and imagine those bright, warm touches. 


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by Balthazar Simões