I made it to the forest-like part of the beach where the eucalyptus and acacia trees could provide enough shade to conduct my first self-taught photography class. My palms were sweating but it wasn’t from the heat. It was from wanting to create something perfect, exactly as I was experiencing it before me. To be able to capture so much more than I could see: the awe, emotion and wonder that accompanied the experience. What is it that photographers do to produce in the viewer a blistering heartache? How does an accidental moment become an eternal imprint in the minds of so many people? How do you capture those moments where time is wrecked, elongated, paused, contorted, wielded into a thousand stories? And what about the necessary self-obliteration that gives way to being completely present in the encounter with a photo; was that something that I could actually bring about? I didn’t know how to capture my unsettled state in that specific landscape. I didn’t know, yet I desperately wanted to convey to someone this moment that they had never lived, but that could liven every boundary of their flesh with scintillating and terrifying familiarity.
Fleshed out on the porous boundaries between memoir and fiction, five interrelated tales – each dedicated to one of the senses – recount what it means for domestic, interpersonal and systemic violence to be the primary component of one’s world. From the nascent queer scene of 1980s postcolonial Cyprus to present-day European metropolises, we follow the unnamed protagonist in her quest to construct meaning in a class and a cultural context that lack any sort of support or analytic tools. Deploying a language that vibrates with synaesthetic sensuality, Georgiou captures a life riven by injustice and its inscription on the senses.
Diana Georgiou is a writer and curator based in London. Her recent writing engages with the horrors of violence and the difficulty of their narration. Attentive to the sonic resonances of language, her textual work also takes the form of recorded sound poetry and performative live readings. Other Reflexes is her debut novel, and was commissioned by Book Works from open submission for the Interstices series, guest edited by Bridget Penney.