When I tell people, as an explanation for specific recent work, that my best friend died last year they have a variety of reactions, but I can count upon receiving self-assured commiseration. There seems to be a prevalent attitude from such sympathizers that, while they may not understand the particulars they can understand the devastation. This seems reasonable at first thought, but when considered seriously it shows how meaningless death can become when it is not in any way related to ourselves. Answering such questions as could this work be seen as therapy forced me to seriously reconsider given sympathies, and question the extent to which a person can allow themself to grasp an unpleasant situation when the shattering nature of it has not been directly felt. Whether it is a hard worked at selfishness or an innate limitation of the human capacity to “feel” (I sometimes wonder if it is necessary to function as I can hardly stand to watch a plant wilt) there seems to be a clear line of how much I can understand of such situations for others and therefore others of mine. Watching the French film Joyeux Noel I cringed the moment the differing forces entered the battlefield made neutral by the appearance of Christmas. Knowing nothing of warfare and disregarding notions about the films “accuracy” I guessed or felt this holiday from war was going to make it nearly impossible for them to kill each other the following morning. Could this zone of personal interaction be lacking in discussions around and reactions to work dealing with death and loss of an unusual and intimate kind? I wonder about these notions of imposed limitation while fully acknowledging the fault could lie in my execution and explanation of these ideas. If these limitations are a truthful part of human nature, however defined, why then is there such a predilection toward false emotion and deference? Is it simply the upholding of a cultural custom, similar to the question “how are you?” that is asked without the slightest fear of it being answered? A wince and exclamation of “so young” can be surprisingly more honest than dismissive questions or an unhealthy curiosity for details—“how large was the tumor?”
Art that escapes the art world and elopes with life.
Located in New York City, Escaping Artist is published by Alissa Guzman.