I was told to write a letter for someone. Day didn’t tell me to whom it would be addressed. She doesn’t really give me details about things, but she does tell me when things need to be done.
I was supposed to talk to you sooner, I think. She mentioned something about this a while ago, perhaps a week or two. But I was occupied with a new show. Oh, she said you might find my job interesting.
I never really thought of myself as an artist. My thing was never art, I was more about numbers and the rational thought behind irrational decisions. But I guess people change in time -I changed in time- and we become irrational beings ourselves.
I happen to enjoy art now. I’m not good with drawings and, quite honestly I am horrid with colors. Day says that my color combinations come closer to a headache than anything I’ve ever tried to express.
But well, art is subjective and everyone has their own version of what is lovely, and painful.
But “the color of vomit” is apparently quite universal. Or so I’ve been told.
So paintings are not my thing. Well, they are my things in the way art is now mine, whether I want it or not. But art and commercial are not always holding hands. And if I want to survive, to make something out of my art, then my thing has to be photography.
It’s not easy. There are a million things that must be taken into consideration before you are able to take a picture. Of course that you must think of the message. What is it that you’re trying to capture? But there are also more technical things: lights, angles, lenses, and bits and pieces of edition that make your image speak for itself.
As someone who is not very good with words (I should be talking to you about something inspiring or nice, but instead I’m trying to explain art to you… who does that?) I very much prefer to allow my photographs to talk for me.
I have a favorite one. I didn’t actually take it. It arrived on the mail for me.
It seems like it was taken quickly, before the artist could decide what they wanted it to mean. It is a lovely image. In it, two people are standing in what looks like the edge of a platform. They’re not touching, it doesn’t look like they need to. The picture is so shaky and obscure (taken from the inside of a train. The couple is framed by the closing doors) that you can’t make out the features of the people in it. In the background, a couple of passersbys walk briskly from somewhere to somewhere, adding even more motion to the shaky capture. Everything is in motion. Everything but the couple.
It looks like they might reach out for each other, in another life, in another frame. But the artist didn’t know that they wanted them to touch, that they wanted the picture to have another meaning.
All things considered, the picture shouldn’t have a meaning. It should have never told a story. But by chance it does.
It is telling you that it needs and wants and regrets. The picture tells you that something happened before it was taken, and something happened after. It tells you that the people in the picture were probably loved at one point, that they were still loved in the picture, but were never loved afterward.
Whoever took the picture probably didn’t know that. How could they?
The couple were the only people that could’ve really known, but they are less than a memory now.
I was supposed to talk to you about healing and changing. Day said I was a good example. That maybe you’d want to hear from me to know that things are not as finite as we might believe they are.
But I guess that is a bit obvious by now. We all heal and change. Not too long ago I led an unhappy life. I was a caged bird that was never allowed outside. I wasn’t even a song bird. No one came for me for songs or entertainment, the less people saw the better.
Then I got sick. I don’t quite remember how it happened or why or when or what. But I know I was gone for a while. They took me to some medical facility. It wasn’t a hospital, or at least not a common one. My father, he said a friend of his took me there. They kept me inside for ages. Can barely remember a minute of it.
All I remember of it is a name. Four months, all that treatment, my brain going through a blender, and all I remember is a name.
For hours upon hours all I remember is screaming a name. And then something else.
It doesn’t make any sense. I know it doesn’t, but I still know it happened.
I remember it happening so clearly it doesn’t feel like a memory. Day says I probably made it up. That my mind simply tried to make sense of all that happened during that time.
I was so sick, and heavily medicated. I couldn’t possibly remember a thing about it all.
But I do.
Day knows that I do but she gets nervous and jittery whenever I mention it so I try not to. I don’t think saying it here counts, since she asked me to relate and be nice.
And if I was asked to talked to you is because you probably understand. Maybe you have memories that don’t belong, or know names you shouldn’t. Maybe you had to visit strange medical facilities once when you were sick. Or you weren’t allowed to leave your home until you were.
Perhaps you understand that that was the price you had to pay to be free.
Free of your cage, or wherever it was that you were being kept. Maybe freedom from yourself or your thoughts.
The point being that after all the uglyness we still manage to be free.
Because you are free. Even if you cannot see it.
You are free in a way that caged birds are not.
We are free in a way we were not. And that is absolutely okay.
You just need to find a way to express that freedom. If you’re like me and you were sick, and then were not, you will need something that speaks for you, and about you.
Maybe it won’t be art, but something will come up.
Eventually, you’ll have your own voice.
You just need to give it time.