Safta Serka, mother of all Polish grandmas and the last remnant of "that" generation of my family, a feisty fighter and rights-advocate (for she was always right), gave up the ghost last Friday and in a grand and dignified age passed on to the other side in her sleep.
In this kind of moment, and especially in a passing of this nature that isn't tragic (god knows life had provided her with many opportunities to go unnaturally), but rather simply the way of the world and the way of the human machine, the mourning is different. No tearing of clothes or a big cry to the heavens, but mainly confusion. A re-routing. A reorganization of world orders and habits, of times of day, replacing the new-fresh memory with the long photo-albumy one. The changing of sheets. The buzz of the everyday and elderly grumblings turn off at once and suddenly a character rises whose ultimate silence allows you to observe her complexity.
Young Serka rises with her golden hands and dreams of studying Art in the big city; Serka the prosecuted rises too (very little is known about her and how she managed to survive. Those golden hands intended for studying Art sewed and embroidered for officers' wives and Polish gentiles, but there is more there); and then rises Serka the mother-governess, the hostess, the landlady handing out orders and the cook whose dish each and every time "came out special today" (and after the first bite: "The truth, I deserve a prize!"). Rises Serka the avid viewer of "The Bold and The Beautiful" who reads the subtitles out loud in a monotone (" don't leave me I love you you never loved me I'm going don't go").
The family balance shifts. The division of mental resources, the division of attentiveness, of worry. And your "number in line", you can't not think about that. And around it and all the while, the world keeps on turning, phones ring and people are born. Ice cream is licked. A coffee is returned because it's not hot enough or rather too hot.
And other things happen, far less banal and far less arbitrary. People are pushed off of busses for their origin. Others demand to take power out of judges' hands and into their own. People are never satiated with power. Not far from here, people are slaughtering and being slaughtered ruthlessly in the name of religion and here they senselessly beat those who are different, the disadvantaged, those who do not have the power to fight back (as if that's a virtue - the power to fight?! ).
There are many ways to kill. You can cut off heads and then you can "cut off heads". You can take someone's will to live and in its place, into the vacuum, other desires will collect and gather like revenge or aggression. You can take a man's place, his identity, his freedom of movement, his belonging to the world, his liberty, his sense of safety - physical and mental. His home - the material one with its walls and doors, or the one he carries within him. That too is a slaughter.
The ability to make Art, the opportunity to experience art - is a privilege. We need to remember it is not available to everyone. Plenty has been said and written about Art being born out of necessity, but let me say this out loud: the shows I am inviting you too (below) have been created out of possibility - out of freedom and availability of mind and soul to imagine, to fool around, to laugh.
In face of Serka - the unrealized artist - and in face of what is happening and closing in on us, I can't help but think how lucky I am / we are, artists and viewers alike, to have our minds and souls be a "land of the free", at least for the meantime.