body of work

Body of Work is a bold and sensual photography series featuring fragments of poems written on the author's body. This dynamic project reflects a desire to infuse the written word with living, visual components. Conceived as a companion to Gili Estlin Hirsch's first book, Anna, Body of Work shows how a collection of poetry can be redesigned, reorganized, and re-presented in a visually innovative way that takes words off the shelf and gives them new life in our minds and on our bodies.

I believe in words living and dead, like people rising and falling with the ebb and flow of our communal breath. Words have name and soul; each one slinging writhing up upon and in our veins, and if we tread lightly enough and listen carefully enough we can taste them, hear them, see them, feel them; like a hook sliding under skin, or hot sauce on the scathing tongue; a frozen river, still, solemn. Syringes seething with alliteration soothing your ailing soul? I pray and kneel for it, bite and hum on it, I'm hung up crooked on it, words, words, words. They make up my mind, and they make up my soul. They make up my being, and they make up my whole body.

Sometimes when I think of writing, I wish I could show people what my body is made of. Like an x-ray of intent, I would peel and reveal nothing but words and words; in stills, in motion, in fragments and pieces. My skin first and then my muscles, soft tissues touching words, bones hard and thick words. This is my Body. Books are unfit to hold poems, and shelves are unfit to hold words. Even the masterful trees are too weak to sustain them. This is a work of intention. Words of the body, work on the body, work, bodywork, work of words, Body of Work.

—Gili Estlin Hirsch

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