Beginnings are always very difficult for me. Perhaps I was marked for this fate by way I was born. My mother was in labor for two lays and two nights. To this day she describes in vivid detail the horror of my birth. There was a knife next to her bed; they had to wrestle it away from her. She wanted to kill herself.... Finally I came into the world, feet first.
When I gave birth to Angelica, it also took me two days and two nights of primal pain. I could not deliver. Way past the deadline, I was weeks overdue. In the end the birth was not at all natural; helped along by the doctors, it was anticlimactic. Angelica's appearance, however, absolved all the guilt I had carried around for years; I was overwhelmed with a beautiful feeling of relief.
Men in America give out cigars to celebrate the birth of their sons. I participate in this peculiar custom by presenting this cigar story to celebrate my daughter, born in the midst of this project.
Tobacco originated in the American continent, and smoking is an American phenomenon. Tobacco was considered a sacred plant by the American Indians. Smoking the weed was part of their religious rituals from the time of the discovery of fire, from the time the fire was stolen from the Gods and given to the people. The smoke functioned in much the same fashion as the burning of sandalwood and various other spices in Asia. It was a ladder to the realm of the Gods, the direct connection to the Divine powers.
Whether smoked in a peace pipe by the Indians or in cigarettes by Hollywood stars, tobacco is intertwined with the history of this continent. Even now, in the midst of the anti-smoking campaign, it is no less a preoccupation: nowhere in the world are people so adamantly and passionately against smoking. From a pure ritual of the Indians, smoking was transformed into a commercial, addictive, cancerous industry. Hopefully one day we will again discover the ritual...
- Virgin territories, Long Beach Museum, Long Beach, CA. 1992
- Image One Gallery, New York, NY. 1990
- C.A.G.E, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1990
- P.S. 1 Museum, L.I.C. NYC. 1989