Featured Fig: Alex Forman

Featured Fig is an ongoing column showcasing Les Figues authors. Alex Forman is the author of Tall, Slim & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents, and is also a photographer, literary translator, and personal historian. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Art. Her work has appeared in such publications as TrenchArt Recon, ArchipelagoDrunken Boat, Jubilat, Nerve, and has been exhibited at David Krut Projects and Derek Eller Gallery, among others. Tall, Slim & Erect: Portraits of the Presidents is her first book. She lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

1. Tell us a little bit about your aesthetic inclinations?

To create, I reach into the air and, usually with an invisible lasso, gently pull Inspire down while it kicks and brays, not with the intention of domesticating or breaking it in, but to gently stick its hoof to the silken page. When I translate it is more like dismantling sandcastles and reconstructing them again a few yards away. Sometimes I reach my hands around in the sand for a plastic shovel or a rake. I’ll do this nearly naked, wet with saltwater, its sticky thick scent makes sense at the border.

2. Where did you come from and are you happy that you’re no longer there?

As it happens, I was born briefly in Bloomington, IN, stayed for less than six months before crossing the Alps on a sled in winter. I learned the names of things with Portuguese priests in East Timor. Reading and writing came late at the Angel school in Ann Arbor, MI. My name I adopted later still in Rio de Janeiro, where I discovered happiness smells like diesel. They say that God is Brazilian.

3. What does your work demand? What does it offer?

Work demands always being a better self. It also demands silence, solace, and repeated leaps of faith. It offers companionship, a lifesaver, and a kaleidoscope.

4. Where do you do what you do?

In the rainforest, or by the beach. To the drone of cicadas, or waves. On a breeze.

5. If push came to shove…

I’d get it done.

6. Please tell us about beauty, belief or bawdry. You may begin.

Beauty is a belief in the bawdry. It’s really that simple. But I can state it in another way: the truth that comes from honest searching.

7. As Gertrude Stein says “let us why why.” Please proceed.

“Why why” is rhetorical whining without a where and a when a who and a how.

8. What does art do to you?

If it’s beautiful, I touch it.

9. Who (or what) do you admire?

I admire people who do. And I admire language, the bolts of it.

10. What is a good question? What questions do you ask?

Do you remember your dream, love?

11.What do you find deeply satisfying?

Being read to, being fed.

12. What are your favorite kinds of figs?

Brazilian candied green figs

-Green figs



Cook the figs in boiling water for more or less twenty minutes or until they are soft.

Let them cool, put them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer for 2 hours.

Remove them from the freezer and wash them under running water, rubbing them against each other to loosen and remove the skins.

Make an X shaped cut at the bottom and remove the stems.

Put the water and the sugar to boil, until it candies, or when a spoon pulls up a thread.

Add the figs and cook them for another 15 minutes.

Let cool.


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