March 10, 2021.

Now, I won't take up much of your time but there is something that I must address to you, whoever you may be. We're connected through the tele-intimacy of these screens and social life tracking applications, and the least I owe you is this letter. To some of you reading this now, I am even fortunate enough to call friend.

We're in a strange relationship, memory and me.

At once we're inseparable but I never feel too close to them—they are mine and not mine. Permenantly yesterday. I write about this in a poem—

"These weighted years
Cradled between arms."

—how in holding me, he holds the weight of my memories.

And that's where I'm going: to be cradled.

A mature man on the right, Dominic, looks longing at his young lover, j. bilhan, who peals a mandarin. The light is of a golden hue, and they look happy but are not smiling.
I met Dominic on December 14, 2018—a wet evening in Berlin; There was a deep stirring. I'll share the details with you next time we speak. The important thing here is that we're joining our lives together nearly three years after meeting. September 1st is when I fly to Lisbon, where he's just signed a two-year lease.

When we first met in the street, I had asked to photograph him. After some time, he agreed. I had told myself that it was for my project Variable Embrace, and I believed it at the time. Now it seems this has become a permanent embrace—he used that turn of speech on our last video call. Cheeky guy.

We've been talking about the pleasure of our practice, the sublime, works wrought with pain, the trauma that religion inflicted upon me, the ancient relationship between religion and the arts, my recontextualizing that realm. He tells me to come home, and that we'll be together: safe.

Together is home

He tells me we can work out those kinks together. Five months between us now, and a caterpillar is soon to burst from a cocoon.


Chapter One: Childhood.

Chapter Two: The Youthful Fuck-Up.

Chapter Three: The Butterfly Period.


And so I must resolve myself of Houston. There are many prints in my possession, some odds, and ends. The most concerning are the large format prints from Variable Embrace. When I started printing those images I was so certain about everything: that these needed to be market-ready, special editions, and so on. Only now I'm certain that I was wrong. Over the coming weeks, I will publicize a liquidation; a silent auction.

I hate the practice of selling artwork.

I'll think about it as a resolution, anyone interested in buying a piece is aiding me in my transitionary evolution. I'm becoming an emigrant and an immigrant. I'd like to consider Lisbon a clean slate; I don't want to take any of my existing prints; I will return to the drawing board with Variable Embrace.

And then there are the bibles. The bibles. 25 poems I say. Dao 25:25. In the year 2021, my birth year 25, I partition the first quarter of my life and place those memories into 25 vandalized bibles. They are laden with life,
A stack of books, most with the words "HOLY BIBLE" in a serif, gold-leaf font.
                wrought with pain,                                         


                                                                     gooey and hard simultaneously.

Yes, so here goes. The promise of love, the risk of business, and my wits to guide me. Let's see what happens. Write to me if you find the time. April through August will fly by, and I'll be moving quickly along the way. I'll find the ability to share more time once this transition is complete and I've entered the banal state of life in Lisbon.

If the business venture is a success, then I'll reveal more information about that to you. Just know it has something to do with sustainability; we must get rid of all this plastic; we give our full attention to the earth and its wild creatures. We must ...

If one day you see me volunteering on a small farm or assisting ocean creatures in abating the disasters that humans are causing, you'll know that I'm completely fulfilled in life. For now, I'm only attempting to stabilize in a mad, metropolitan world. Yet, all I want is to make artwork, do right by earth, and be in love. 

- j.