The Unseen

December 3rd, 2008 § 0 comments

Sitting in the Dallas Airport once again on my way to Palm Springs, I passed my layover in the usual way by eating lunch and photographing out the window. Instead of catching the Obama plane like some I know, I witnessed something more sinister.

I thought at first a famous “someone” was boarding the plane fueling near my gate, as cars of an unusual kind drove outside the plane, and uncharacteristic people milled around the wings. I was taking pictures more out of boredom than interest, and I was watching mostly because the activity was happening in my direct line of vision. As I snapped away, the milling men directed a certain car into a specific place, and they themselves appeared to be assuming some kind of formation. The closer I watched the unfolding activity, the more I pieced together what was happening. The men were military officers in dress uniforms, and the car was a hearse.

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“The Minor Fall, The Major Lift”

September 17th, 2008 § 0 comments

Two years does not seem to be a very significant marker when you are expecting a lifetime more, but two years in reverse, two years since so many things, is almost unbelievable. Despite all that has changed since you left, I am still amazed by how much we miss our friend.

You have become an elusive man to pin down; you come and go from my life now that I don’t force you to exist tangibly through my artwork. The thesis was the culmination of a one sided relationship I could not maintain. I can’t force myself to remember you, and I can’t choose to forget, so you exist spontaneously now in undulating waves of joy and sorrow.

I listened to your songs today, at work, on the train, at home, and now while I write, the songs of your death. It was not inappropriate to do so, nor morbid, because today is the day you died; they are beautiful songs. They are not the tunes you played for me in life, though I know you did, they are the songs we chose to describe our sorrow. These few have become the descriptive moments of a passing I still remember a little too clearly.

And I have discovered you learn to live with grief the way you learn to live with yourself. I still feel the regret and disappointment, but without the desperation.

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Heroes for Ghosts

July 25th, 2008 § 0 comments

I admit it, I forgot your birthday, not suggesting, however, I would not have anyway. Lately dreams have been a tangled mass of confusion, I thought it was an overdose of drug related moves, most recently Fear and Loathing; I am sure you would approve. But you being wrapped up in the mix is not so ordinary, I dream mostly of ghostly places not people.

How many birthdays was I there for, I wonder, it is a pity I don’t remember them. I remember one in 1999 or so. I have a visual picture of your card, fancy black lettering of your name covering a yellow envelope. You were impressed and I was surprised. I was glad you noticed, but I think I gave you an ugly card, something designed to annoy, perhaps a palm tree. I remember that look we would exchange that went through the solid barriers of people. It’s an inconvenience I don’t remember more, instead I remember the kinds of things I would rather forget. Last night I found there really is no way to think about you that is not painful.

You will age with us, what would it be, 29? You will always haunt us with your youth, because in our minds you never will age. I suppose we carry you on the only way we know how, forcing our memory of you to care about the things we still care about, getting older, celebrating our own existence. So, without doodles or cards or looks between friends, happy birthday.


June 14th, 2008 § 0 comments

They don’t recommend bringing children under 11 to the Holocaust museum in the National Mall, and I can understand why. I have wanted to visit for quite some time, a desire left over from my days of unhealthy indulgence in death, memorials, and monuments commemorating memorialized events. My initial response to the museum was a slew of questions concerning the artistic decisions of the architect, James Freed, and the curators of the main exhibition. I was surprised to learn the museum opened in 1993, it seemed such a landmark of respect in Europe that I assumed it was much older. The building was perhaps most interesting to me because I have seen most of the “exhibition” content before. Its design was inspired by, but apparently not meant to reference, camps, historical sites, etc. found in Europe, and I was surprised it was so similar to the museums in Berlin. Light was controlled, leading from darkness and claustrophobic spaces into hallways of bright, natural light. The exhibition began on the forth floor and spiraled downward with the chronology of the war. I was interested in skylights, triangular windows, and the use of glass. Transition spaces broke the mood, and corporate looking carpet led to the next floor.

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Questioning the “universality” of Death

October 28th, 2007 § 1 comment

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?”

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