Serendipity, good planning or what?

After posting my photo of the day today I went through my emails: deleting spam, reading and filing those needing no action and taking action for those that needed it. But as a scrolled down one of the emails – the A.N monthly digest – I saw this article about an MA blog.


I clicked on the link and that opened up a really interesting few hours of exploring a fellow wheelchair user’s work. Beth Davis-Hofbauer describes herself as a disabled person. (Nb. This is always a good thing because if people with impairments don’t see themselves as disabled then they are not going to recognise the social, organisations and attitudinal factors in their experience in the same way as people  who recognise disability as a social construction.)

She’s just begun and MA in fine art but I can’t see which institution she is working at. Anyway her work appears interesting and engaging. She keeps a website here. The series of work that really caught my attention was entitled Creative Destruction and can be seen here. The set consists of seven pictures. The first is a simple painted statement with the words “I am alone” painted in blue with black accents on a white background. The second is an intimate landscape with the words “help me” painted  on a golden setting wit the red background. Then the next five images are violent in their presentation though use of colour, line, word or implication.

The series of images are entitled: isolation; cry for help; pain; escape; the death of art; washing away the sins; and the resurrection of ideas and resonated with my experience. I am isolated no necessarily socially but ideologically as the dominant mores and norms act against me but not recognising my needs. We all seek help sometimes , but this cry for help evoked a sort of pathetic sense of valuelessness in me and the red background sat there quietly threatening.

But the key image for me was Escape. This consisted of a photo looking into a bathtub with covered randomly with deep read blood and the edge of the bath peppered with the same red stains, but this time in the form of fingerprints. The evocation was clear in this image: death offers escape from the pain of being different, disabled, stigmatised and isolated.

The death of art image acts as a turning point in the series as it is full of anger and action and so we know by it that escape is not the answer and fighting back is. The penultimate image, washing away the sins, shows a bath again with blood read stains in the bath and on a cloth being washed away with water and the last image, the resurrection of ideas is a static piece violent in colour but suggestive of moving on positively.

And so this series resonated strongly with my own experience. My health often gets in the way of life. Social barriers that fail to recognise my needs often get in my way. Sometimes I despair of life knowing that increasing my Warfarin and stabbing my femoral or iliac arteries would result on the nothingness of sometimes long for. But each time I get to this point I think about life and realise that even with all of its shit life is better than nothing. Why? I am not sure but probably because life offers something where death offers nothing. Escape suggests escaping to something  and so death does not offer escape.

So back to the point of this post. Without subscribing to the A.N website I may not have found this artist or seen her work. So is that down to serendipity or good planning?


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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