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I stand on a platform. It’s not very tall, about two feet high. I look at you. You are standing on the ground, looking up at me. I am much taller than you. I have a physical advantage over you, I feel stronger than you. I could easily pin you to the ground, if I jumped. I can take you. I look down at you and I have power over you. I am looking at you. Pause. I begin to feel that it may be the other way around: you are looking at me. You are demanding that I give you something. I feel an expectation to perform. I am standing up here, taller, looking at you, and you expect me to use this position I have over you to do something for you. I am up on a platform, the object of your gaze. I feel vulnerable in my extreme visibility. I get stage fright, in French, “le trac,” which comes from the word “tracas,” hassle, trouble. I am unsettled and self-conscious: I did not come here to perform, I am not prepared. I have nothing to say. I look down at my feet. I look beyond my feet and to the ground. It is further away from me than usual; if I fall, I’ll fall two extra feet than when I stand on the ground. Thinking about this gives me vertigo, I feel like I am falling. I look up. I look beyond you, to where my taller perspective does not affect my balance. I pretend you are not here, my unwelcome audience. I look at the landscape. From up here, I can see things I usually can’t. This vantage point is better than the ground’s, from here I can see above the bushes and into that window. From here I can see better than you can.

I am standing on the ground, looking up at you. You are standing on a platform. You are looking down at me. I am smaller than you are; you are taller than I am. I am lower, I am below, I am inferior. I am looking at you and I am quiet. I wait for your word, for your action, for you to show me what you are up there to show me. I expect that you will start at any second, so I stop everything I am doing to pay attention to you. I prepare myself to absorb what you have to show me. I prepare: I keep my eyes open, focused on you, my thoughts waiting to hold your performance. I also prepare to judge your performance. I will like it, or I won’t. I prepare my rotten tomatoes, in case I dislike what you show me. I feel powerful in my position as your audience, having the agency to accept or reject you. I look up at you and meet your gaze. Your physical advantage is obvious. I fear I must like you, whatever you do, or else you might take me down if I express my disagreement. You are taller than I am. Your feet are close to my face. I look at my feet, sturdy on the ground. I look back up at you. I imagine you falling, I imagine breaking your fall with my body. I see the movement in slow motion and feel vertigo; what if I trip before I catch you? I imagine you’ve fallen off the platform. I imagine myself climbing up. I imagine standing on the platform. Pause. You are still standing on the platform and I am looking at your face. I see you are looking behind me, at something far away. I turn around to look where you are looking. I am too short to see what you see.

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Hélène Schlumberger was born in France and lives and works in the United States. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts in Social Practice candidate at the California College of the Arts. Helene is interested in sculpture as a tool. Her experience of social displacement informs works that deal with translation and the bridging of human connectivity over physical distance. Her sculptural works, sometimes interactive and sometimes reliant on visual metaphors, are often made in common building materials, and many are like stages anticipating their performers; their potential is realized when people use and activate them.

From Where I Stand is a series of objects Hélène has photographed because of their potential use as platforms. The text focuses on the physical interaction two people might have with these platforms. This iteration of the project is an excerpt from a larger series of images.

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