He felt closer to dust…than to light, air or water. – W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants
Armed with brooms, vacuums, and mops, we clean to eradicate dreck from our lives. With Sweepings, Cory E. Card calls attention to the ontological foolishness of the endeavor. Card’s subject matter is strange, repulsive. After all, dust bunnies are accumulations of debris—hair, skin, fibers, lint, dirt—sloughed from animate and inanimate objects. With resolve, we chase them out from under our beds. With care, we remove them from the needle of our record players. With embarrassment, we pluck them from our belly buttons. They are unwanted, shameful, and gross. Ours is not a failure to see these objects. Ours is a refusal to look, a denial that sweepings are accretions of disintegrating matter, a denial that they have anything to do with us. Perhaps we are unwilling to look because we are reluctant to consider our mortality.
Card makes us look. He preserves the dust that we repeatedly (and in vain) work to expunge. Unflinching studies of repellent objects, Sweepings nevertheless reveals the exquisite intricacies of dust. The drawings confuse. They are both disgusting and enchanting. We cannot look away. Sorrowful and beautiful, Sweepings confronts us with our fate.
– Heather A. Shannon