people in space by Aldrin Valdez

I’ve been making these small works on paper. A simple way to describe what they depict is: people in space. In each drawing/painting, a figure exists in an ambiguous setting—or perhaps: exists ambiguously. Are they isolated? Are they stationary? Alone? About to move? What are they doing? How do they feel?



I’m used to staying in and isolating to cope with illness – but this decision has new meanings now, new complexities. Someone I met online asks if these drawings/paintings are how I cope with COVID. I hadn’t been thinking about making in the language of coping per se. But this is that. Creating these images helps me feel less alone and feel more palpably old/new/renewed connections with people, with environments. It is happening on multiple levels, in many forms and dimensions of longing and urgency that I’m trying to understand, don’t understand. My friend Ted, a doula of sorts, offers this language: healing in real time. I question the meaning of those words – “healing” & “real” & “time”. They’re unsteady and shifting. I doubt them. And doubt becomes a context for the figures in these paper spaces – figures that emerge from nebulous insides and uncertain outsides and that I’m now sharing with you.




you lose one context and gain another—the loss being the new context




there’s no going back, he said, moving between veils




words when you’re alone recurring:
defensive wounds
blunt force trauma




there was no preparing for this, so be kind to yourself


ripples when there is silence



they pushed all the furniture to one side of the room
and hoped their body would feel different





a voice intrudes: clearly she’s bothered





as always, but especially lately, your anxiety wakes up before you, much better dressed – in truth a sartorialist – gayer and a renaissance model to boot





the days blur





6 feet





sunny day indoors, with Ingres:
a neon bougie fantasy





come near me and I will knock you dead






somebody stays in. this is not new, they say, but ongoing, is dire, is not a choice to risk. and somebody else is heard saying, I’m outside. somebody is seen going to work. somebody cannot afford. somebody must remain to tend. to us. to make noise. for us. somebody wails. somebody is forced to negotiate. somebody is very still. somebody is here. is not here.