Justy Phillips

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1. When your guide is a panda, 2012. Single channel video 02:06min.

2. When your guide is a panda, 2012. Production still.

3. When your guide is a panda, 2012. Production still.

Panda – Trees

His name was Benito Gonzalez. I saw his black and rounded ears at first. Glossy against the backdrop of the soft, dark trees. And maybe he wouldn’t have turned his head had I not placed my hand on his shoulder. Let the pine needles swim over my feet.

We were not alone that first day in the forest. He had guided other people up the steep track before me. They too had come to see the butterflies. To see fifty million flying things splintering the air. But like I say, today it’s soft, the air not so easy to cut and hold. The butterflies are hanging in blackened roosts, bending all the branches on this side of the moon. Like softly falling rain they said, but not one of them unfolds its wings. Not one of them leaves a tree.

None of this matters to me. Since I saw Benito Gonzalez, his eyes as black as coal, I want to know how safe it is. Us standing in the trees. As he turns around to face the crowd the others can’t help but see. It’s a panda he’s wearing on his head. Endangered. He greets me.

© Justy Phillips 2012

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