Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pradelna Bohelnice, show OTEC (FATHER)

The gallery is on the grounds of a mental institution in Prague. Hospitals themselves are very disturbing, I can't imagine a mental facility, (thinking of Anitra and her suffering while I was in Prague.)

The space is large, cold with very high and unpolished walls. (You can see the state of the building here: Video translates well, as do smaller pieces perhaps in the nooks of particular alcoves. Paintings would also do well, if we could hover them perhaps off the wall. Lighting is ominous.

Here was a letter I was going to submit to a group show at this gallery. The idea was to write a letter to one's father. (I believe it was tied to unresolved problems with the so-called "father" figure.) The show never happened and was canceled due to the curator's illness.

I wrote to my grandfather:

To a father (once removed)

Dear Grandfather,

The ragged, stern brutality of your youth has all but faded.  The angle of your jaw loose, your fingers, soft and light. Your strength once upheld the pillars that constructed your home, the imperialistic architecture of Vienna. How I dreaded visiting the place. The short cut phrases of unfamiliar German, the continuous cloud looming over the already gray buildings, a place that tucks away its mistakes.  Those swept - away - under - the - carpet particles that none -the - less permeate one, whether we choose to accept them or not. So much of you accepted and even more, identified with, the Austrian facade.

All of that faded last November. The outer shell melted as you faced inhumanity in a hospital. You consciously fought to reclaim some sense of dignity while defecating into a portable toilet instead of the given diaper. To me, what was most amazing was your utter release; your release of hard edges, your release of proscribed manhood, your softening. Your whole self, altered.

No longer were there remnants of “father” proclaiming himself law by corporal punishment. No longer was there the strength of deceit that made you tower over those of smaller stature.  

There was just you, without a filter; you, the frailty that was your dying body; you, with your empathy for the struggle of life.  I was so privileged to be in that with you, to have been your witness, to have seen a side to you that so many missed.

As you let go and in your dying lay limp, the hours passed without notice. Your skin was so delicate. There was stillness and a pause.

The last conscious moment we spent together, you humored me with a logistics puzzle; one of the same ones you amazed yourself with when I was a young child. This time I did not feel foolish at my mathematical incomprehension, but marveled at your brilliant mind writing and solving the problem in midair.

My respect and love for you quadrupled that last month. I am honored to have known an emasculated, soft and gentle man like you.


Your granddaughter

No comments: