I saw the coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooolest thing the other day. I noticed that my favorite band from my high school era, Bauhaus, had released a final album (they have been broken up and recently toured together as a reunion), so I downloaded the album and as a bonus you get a video of a 2005 live performance in which they play there most noted tune "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (you may have seen them play this live in the opening scenes of the David Bowie vampire movie "the Hunger"). Anyway the video has the lead singer, Peter Murphy, hovering onto the stage, upside down in bat pose...AND proceeds to sing the entire song this way. How hard would that be. Way cool.
Now, I'm not quite the Goth I used to be, but it still works its way into my art. I have always been attracted to shadow...after all without shadow, light cannot be defined. It is also one of the most misunderstood of aesthetics. I think the assumption is that if your work leans a bit toward the dimmer side, (whether in color or theme) that you are somehow a dark personality. I can't tell you how many times I've had people say that, by the nature of my work, they assumed that I was this pensive and foreboding personality. My belief is that the art creates is not the sum total of an artist, it is merely the part they wish to express. (the following are a few samples from a commish I just finished).
In my case my aesthetic choices came about because (this is only speculation...I'm not sure anyone can really know why they do what they do to the nth degree) of a number of reasons. Probably the most notable was being a shy insecure kid...I moved a ton and just when I would make friends I would move again. Thus the loner vampire became sort of appealing as a metaphor....they were beautiful, stylish, self confident...everything I wanted to be. But really I think there is something deeper going on. I believe that there is something archetypal, something innate, that makes us fear...yet long for the night. To me it is the metaphor of the unknown, like sleep, like death.
Through the years, the vampire in me worked it's way into my art...its more refined than it used to be, but it is really a way of releasing ideas but it is also a way to explore the complexity of existence and the mortal coil we must all shed. Someone like Monet, finds a role in art exploring beauty and light and color. For me, it is the contrast of light and dark and of time's deteriorating and transformative effect on all things. I know this sounds odd, but it is really the hint of painfully beautiful nostalgia that fascinates me. There is something so sweet, so sad, so engrossing about things lost. Yes, there is beauty in tragedy, it is the recognition of the fragility of life and light as it battles against the shadow. Or in the case of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico, a celebration of the dead is really an joyous celebration of life. The dark eerie setting of a cemetery at night, is transformed with simple candles, flowers and warm hearts, into one of the most beautiful things I have ever beheld.
This brings me to the Holocaust piece that Judy and I worked on relating to her family's experience (Judy did an amazing number of in depth informative posts on the collaboration check it out). The most moving thing about working on this piece was that sense of lives lost, not in the sense of mere existence, but in Judy's father's case, childhood stolen. It is strange because as I was working on this project, what I found most disturbing was the not the photos of despair, but rather the photos of joy before the darkness came.
The next two images really punctuate the point. These are Judy's handiwork:
We know the tragedy that lies ahead yet we as viewers are helpless to reach into the past and help. It is the fragility of life that amazes me, the beauty of it despite adversity...perhaps because of it. It is how things in the universe try to block out the light, and how light tries to move through shadow. A dance...and sometimes a violent one, but if you look hard enough you will find grace and moments of beauty. This is the gift that Judy has, as an artist and as a she navigates this territory flawlessly.