You must praise the mutilated world - Adam Zagajewski

The work grows by subtraction, with attention, and from neglect.

Act 1.

The ground is fallow, overgrown. A figure works alone. He clears space, measures out a rectangle. His sharp spade cuts, a pickaxe bites in, the shovel teaches rhythm. What can be uncovered? What will be engraved? Where is the vanishing point? Snow falls: a little, then more. The work can wait.

Spring. He resumes, digs deeper. Delineates blocks. Cuts them away. Summer. Rain. He slaps mud over damage, clips back vegetation, carves again. Steps intersect with ramps. He grows thin, his clothes thinner. Shaping becomes excavation. Or is this extraction? A place or a site?

Winter again. Freeze, thaw. Snow, snowmelt. The pit floods, the sides cave in. Spring. Summer. He squares walls, levels the floor, restores a clear perimeter. Builds a watchtower. Autumn. For every pit, a mound. He shapes it into steps. An amphitheater. For ghosts.

Act 2.

His hair is long. He kneels. Shaves his head. Badly.

The pit is roomy; space for twenty bodies. Side by side, end to end. The figure takes each place, naked, limbs loose. His weight crushes snow, he tastes mud. The camera’s cold iris. A few slow beats. The clockwork’s final click.

Act 3.

The site decays, grows weeds. A workman cuts them back, digs out fallen soil. Twenty photographs, life size, placed side by side. Snow obscures; he sweeps them clean. Wind shuffles; he weights them down. Water soaks; they freeze. He shovels soil. Ice over image, earth over ice, snow over earth. Ice, earth, snow, earth, snow, snow.

Spring melt, ground thaw. The pit floods. Frogs chirp. The workman is the figure. He cuts the mound across, shovels more soil, downhill into water. Forms emerge. New, reminiscent, vestigial. The pit fills, dries. Over it, grass will grow. And flowers.


Where? His backyard. This is the home of the figure.

Who? You. Blood soaks the soil you walk on.

When? Then, and now, and again.


What next? The movie.

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The More That Is Taken Away is a fiscally sponsored project of NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship, a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts. The project is also made possible in part with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts' Electronic Media and Film Finishing Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (,

Google Earth view. Act I, Year Three, May