Becoming an Image, Reclaiming a Story
The Alunsina Network turns the pursuit of love into: “a conquest of the world through pictures of prospective partners” — Mele Yamomo
I wanted to tell the long story — a metanarrative of sorts, a tale as old as primordial soup, albeit from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. How it got from a story of resistance to a story of time, binary codes, color theory, and myths, from Prometheus to Gilgamesh is anyone’s guess. Little did I know that in the span of a couple of months, I would see the subconscious story I’ve been telling myself for years for what it’s worth or what it isn’t:
“The Story — in fact, any story–acts as an excursion to the hyper-real. The dailiness we inhabit is replaced by a copy of the world, one where we find closure… This is a culture that strives to re-present reality through metaphor… And wanting something badly enough makes you see them everywhere”. — “Modern Gods”, Nick Laird
I was to learn that when you isolate yourself, you tend to make things larger than life. By hyperfixating on a story, I learned instead that when you try to prove your worth to the world, they show you what you’re worth. As the saying goes, people paint themselves as the heroes of their own stories. In other words, I gazed at the panopticon for too long for it to stare back at me. And by the panopticon I mean the multiple windows from where I catch a glimpse of just a fraction of how much others present of their lives, the screen I hide behind and reduce myself to an image. Which can only mean I have a ship to burn and a journal to save, not the other way around, to leave the past behind and carry the lessons with me, for a story is what lasts.
One of the conversations we had at the gallery was how the fortune tellers who would do the rounds at the stores try to tap into an intrinsic human need and try to sell you hope. I wondered if it was a cruel thing to outsource your hope to “hope dealers”. And for that reason, I found it easy to pass up each opportunity to get a hand reading, and yet, you would think it should be just as easy not to get sold to modern myths. You wouldn’t have guessed what it took to see what I took for symbols and see just a name or a color or a moon or the eye of the storm, not some mythology or metaphor purporting something to mean more than it actually does, or an omen that things will work out — has to work out, just because we want them to. I’ve said before that the flip side of being lost was that in the search for things, we discover things we don’t intend to, what we actually want versus what we thought we wanted. Unfortunately, this isn’t a story about how I learned why certain things had to be the way they are only for things to turn out better, or how we cannot always trust our judgments of a season in life as good or bad accurately. It’s a lesson on how I forgot where I started so I got lost at this part.
In every artistic endeavor, there is expected artistic integrity to live out your message. My parting words from my Fine Arts education were “The fight for your voice is a fight for your vision”. Now as I’m working, at some point, I have resented forcing writing what’s in my head to put money in my pocket. I have to go back to my roots and remember why I write art exhibit and theater reviews and personal essays. It’s because I learned that being an artist is not as removed from what it means to be human, what it means to have compassion, and to make sacrifices for a vision that will serve value for even just one person. If I may borrow from the words of Elizabeth Holmes, “The best conceptual art doesn’t look like art at all”.
Ephemeral art says, “To the myths that remain myths, when were you planning to bury the dead?” My hope is nothing less than to inspire others with the lessons I’ve learned. And maybe then the stories I keep coming back to will ring true for me once again just as my first encounter which I still remember so clearly, only better, for then it won’t just read as a consolation, but my lived reality and how it got me through countless darkest nights to a better place.