Play With Me

Vanessa Sowerwine's Play With Me

catalogue essay, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2002

I have your child here. With me. You think it's yours. You think it's 'you'. But it's here with me, and it isn't you. Don't worry: it isn't me either. It's the 'it' you'll never know. It's the vegetable lump that sprouts limbs where it shouldn't. It's the protein blob that swallows everything it shouldn't. It's the flesh puppet that mouths all that floats through the air. It's the biomorph that cares nada for your Wiggles CD, Ikea couch and Hyundai child-proof locks.

I know your child better than you. And I don't have any kids - which is why I know it better than you. I hear it's wavering indifference in its cries for your help. I see its cold terror in the warmth it draws from your domesticity. I feel its frigid resistance in the face of every control you bring to bear on your 'cuteicle of culture'. And I also see the frowns of your future: when will it masturbate? What will it breed? Will it buy a ticket on public transport? Will it think Jim Carey is funny? At best, you can just keep on prodding it, reading whatever signs the soothsayer in you projects onto its indiscriminate actions.

You will not get your child back. And to know that is the greatest taste of freedom you will ever have. Your 'it' is fated to be itself, and can only be calmed by the knowledge that it was never you. Let me know when you want it back. I'll pass on a message.


Text © Philip Brophy. Images © Vanessa Sowerwine.