Joe Bonomo


A large, well-lit, white-walled room.

You walk to a red line painted on the floor, which
tells you in its language "to stop."

An eight foot by eight foot wooden box, twelve inches
deep, sits in the center of the room.  

Gazing upward, you notice an enormous cut-out hole,
nearly the size of the ceiling itself.  Clouds drift,
far, far away.  A bright black bird darts by. 

Fortunately, the weather is nice.  Since this
installation opened, the weather has been dry and

The box is filled with eight inches of rich, dark
soil.  You reach your hand toward the soil.  Your hand
comes back wet.  The soil looks fecund, nearly
obscenely so. 

You peer into the box and notice three human-size
lumps.  These are human beings, you think, lying under
the soil.  You look closer, assume that the lumps are
static.  But you notice the figures--barely
perceptibly, as if in muted conversation--gesturing
toward each other.  One head nods gently toward
another head, as if in a dream a mouth moves.  The
soil, though moist, is caked tightly, securing the
figures snugly in a home of brown. 

You lean in.  The words...the words...are impossible.
The words are muffled (of course) but that is not the
problem.  You hear whole words, whole sentences, whole
exclamations.  Guttural sounds, lyric sounds, sounds
of crying and sounds of ardor coming from dark
currents in the soil. 

And if it were to rain?  To where would the
conversation be swept?

Above, the sun dips behind clouds and a brief shadow
of abeyance sweeps gracefully across the three
figures.  You stand and stare, listening to their
conversation, a conversation you swear later--tearing
the program into tiny strips--never occurred.  You exit
the installation.  You feel you have entered the

For days afterward, you speak in a strange tongue of
loam and beetle, darkness and cake, root and worm.


A large, well-lit, white-walled room.

You walk to a red line painted on the floor, which
tells you in its language "to stop." 

Two shiny discs hang suspended from the ceiling on
gray cords.  You approach the discs, noting with
pleasure that they are eye-level.  The room is quiet.

The disc on the left appears to be a clock, with a

white face, large, neatly-painted numbers, elegant
sweeping hands.  The clock reads "4:43."  (You wonder
absently when the installation closes.)

The disc is spinning clockwise, slowly.  As the rear
of the disc appears, you notice that the back of the
clock has been removed.  The clock's machinery--its
metallic innards--is displayed.  For the several
moments that the back faces you before it rotates from
view, you admire the clean efficiency, the flat,
humming workings, the precision, the know-how.

The clock face slowly rotates into view.  "4:45."

You walk toward the other disc.  It, too, revolves
slowly, but in a counter-clockwise motion.  The
clockface is absent.  In fact, this disc does not
appear to be a clock at all.  In place of numbers and
hands, the word ART is printed in large, black, block

The back has been removed from this disc, also.  There
is nothing behind the disc.  Empty.  A void suspended.

You step back and watch both discs spin.  The room
hums in the quiet.

You look at the left disc. 



A large, well-lit, white-walled room.

You walk to a red line painted on the floor, which
tells you in its language "to stop."

In the center of the room two television sets sit on
black metal stands.  The stands face each other,
approximately ten feet apart. 

On each television screen plays a silent video loop. 

On the left television screen, a young woman in a
medium shot, nude but for a black thong, is standing
and gently, slowly swaying her hips.  She raises her
hands and cups her breasts, fondles wide, erect
nipples, runs both hands down her hips to suggestively
touch and outline her thong.  Every few moments she
turns and sways her bottom for the camera, then turns
back to resume her physical play.

Her head is cut off by the top frame.

On the facing television set, an older woman in a
medium shot, clothed in a house dress and apron,
stands and gesticulates with her hands, as if she is
talking to an unseen spectator.  Every few moments she
pauses to wipe her hands on her apron, occasionally
she folds her hands gently, once or twice places them
nonthreateningly on her hips.  Once---and then
infinitely--she points directly at the camera.
Her head is cut off by the top frame.

The room is quiet.

In between the two television sets there is a bed in a
wooden, Colonial-style frame, made up with a bedspread
of indeterminate style, and a down comforter.  Lying
on the bed is an eight-foot black whip, uncoiled, its
thick handle resting on one of the two pillows.

Spectators are encouraged to lie on the bed and, if
they disrupt the bedspread, to smooth it for the next


A large, well-lit, white-walled room.

You walk to a red line painted on the floor, which
tells you in its language "to stop." 

Two large treadmills sit in the center of the room,
five feet apart.  Each treadmill faces a television
set that is mounted on an eight-foot metal stand.

You observe that both treadmills are moving at
"walking speed."  One is moving forward, the other

In between the treadmills, a small speaker is mounted
on a metal post.  The speaker broadcasts a loud,
endless audio loop: an audience applauding; coins
falling from one bucket into another bucket; a couple
having noisy, enthusiastic sex; an audience laughing,
gratefully; more applause.

Both television sets project an endless video loop: a
colorful scene of a generic suburban street.  The POV
is the middle of the wide, tree-lined avenue, gazing
down a white dividing line which recedes with a
gentle, lolling curve to the right at the vanishing
point.  Occasionally one or two people emerge into the
frame, strolling down the street.  The image is
restful, peaceful, in its own way beautiful.  The
houses on the street are large and solid, the cars and
accouterment in the driveways and yards expensive,
shiny, and newly-purchased.

The camera in each video moves perpendicular to the
vanishing point. 

You notice, with not a little disease, that in the
video mounted in front of the forward-moving
treadmill, the camera pulls back endlessly, away from
the suburban horizon.

You notice that in the video mounted in front of the
backward-moving treadmill, the camera moves forward
down the street, toward the endless suburban horizon.
You search wildly for cords that plug the treadmills
and speaker into the wall sockets.  You can't find

Both video loops last several minutes, but the
street's uniformity makes it impossible to determine
when the videos end and when they begin.

Joe Bonomo

Joe Bonomo's work appears in Denver Quarterly, Sonora Review, Sou'wester and he teaches at Northern Illinois University.