Inkjet Prints, 2020

Photographs taken during a summer film production on Mt. San Antonio in California.

Outside of the trailer’s oval window, a group of props workers huddle around an open hatchback, pulling lids off of two clear plastic bins with tape on the sides labeled, ARMS & LEGS. One crewmember with long blonde hair tied in a ponytail, reaches in and begins flinging loose packing material off to the edge. Another crewmember with long brown hair tied in a ponytail, unrolls a big blue tarp next to the bins and weighs down the corners with some hand-sized rocks gathered from the clearing. Pausing for a moment, they all stare into the bins and confer before the blonde crewmember carefully removes the first object and places it gently on the open tarp. It’s a forearm, slightly tanned, missing its index finger. The elbow end of the forearm looks gory with bone detail and splashes of blood. Then out of the bin comes the second piece, a severed foot. Then the third piece, a knee with some of the calf and some of the thigh still attached on each end. Back and forth the group goes like kids building a sandcastle until both bins are empty and the whole array of dismembered body parts is laid out on the tarp below. It looks like the remains of something horrible.

“These don’t look burnt,” says an Assistant Director to the rest. “We have to darken them up. Where’s your torch?” he asks of the blonde crewmember. She responds by moving to the back of the open car and starts digging through her tool box, lifting her foot out behind her for balance as she leans over unopened plastic bins and bags.

Minutes later, all of the crewmembers have scattered except for one remaining assistant–a guy in his early 20s–who grabs the first prop limb off of the tarp and raises it chest height. He carefully runs the torch flame over the end of the prosthetic turning it black and then repeats the act on the other side. Wispy smoke from the burning silicon rises into his face, entering his throat and watering his eyes. He turns his head back, pushing the burning limb away and coughs for a good minute hunched over, spitting onto the ground and taking staggered drinks from his coffee cup. He keeps glancing up, scanning the scene to make sure other crewmembers aren’t hearing him or God forbid, looking in his direction. The closest person is an electrician, rolling out thick cable in perfect lines across the forest floor and in no way interested in what he is up to with his hand torch and severed body parts. Eyes now moderately dry, he carefully picks up another prop limb and continues to char the ends. Tiny embers crack off the object and swerve into the morning air.