Sunday, December 18, 2016

Postcards from Here—for 4 photos by Esther Hiepler

(to go with the 4 photos, left to right, on display at Kunsthaus Baselland)
By Jennifer K Dick

Postcard 1:

(I feel a sad) emptiness (here)
If I look into (through) you looking (through) into me (looking) through the split wires the scintillating reflections of (your) ceilings I can’t (be) (see) become solid enough to (support) breach this wall (missing you) taken aback by (my question, I) the I-beam exposed clipped lamp (was just wandering) near something (mechanized, I) overtaken (aglow) was just looking (through a) past (a passive) opening (you) looking into (me) splinters, brick, cement (seeing) plaster drying in this (abandoned bucket) re-construction (definition) of the scenic.

Postcard 2:

I come up close like the photographer and gaze down—a duck in the water and a man leaning on the helm of his barge. He is in a grey work suit, black shoes worn soft, red hoody bunched at the back of his neck emerging from coveralls. He looks forward, over murky milk-green water, beyond our view. I feel him sigh within my ribcage. Inhale, exhale brine-infused air. Our contented ease transports nothing but the remains of the self, years lighter in this second half of our century. Merchandise already delivered, responsibilities deposited elsewhere, vacant hull buoyant as he, the duck, float, flotsam and jetsam: debris in this vast world of cargo carrying on. A shadow, faint, almost indiscernible, shifts in tint (green to blue) greying off to the port side.

Postcard 3:

There is nothing like jealousy in an arboretum. Pink drapery of flowers, seed pods drooping from spindly branches outside on the tree whose miniscule tufts of green leaves sprout out thin, untrimmed branches. Trunk curving as if unable to support the blank white of windowless wall, smooth protrusion of stone air grates, or that darker tree’s purple leaves grouping into a dense canopy shading a corner where a summer stroller might take a break from the heat. Grates, thick mesh extensions, inhale and exhale. Someone perceives the waft of a soft perfume, the caress of another season just now, on the other side. Time unhindered.

Postcard 4:

Left over— 
6x4: White. Plastic. Rectangles taped into place: barrier covering the absented storefront. Housefront? Peer, if to, into. What merchandise sleeps in the shadows? Whose family lounges between velour flowers on beat-up sofas from the ’70s? What is watched from inside? Out: 8 vertical Venetian blinds protect what is within from view through a glass front door. Above. Rolled in tight. Awning: yellow, white, light orange pin stripes. No words. Logos. Graffiti. Signage. 2: double-sided ventilation grates form lungs screwed to the front façade below the large panoramic window, close to sidewalk level, 5 horizontal ventilation slats, metallic gills, breathe the inside out, the outside in. 5x2+5x2 slivers of air sucking in and out of the space barely contained. Enclosed. Beyond the visible. Beyond the visible banality of ½ of a parking spot on the right which leaves the façade exposed to view. To viewers’ scrutiny. (Ours). Blueblack ⅓ of a car at left—trunk, back wheel, tinted back window (protection from my gaze)—hides what stands before the door. Base? steps? A stoop? A welcome mat? Sadness of emptiness in the vacant lot longing. The parking meter is a staff with a plastic bird house on top. If I put my 2 in and turn the dial, where can we go?

Esther Hiepler’s photos are on display at The Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, until 8 January 2017.
For more, see Esther Hiepler's home site: or