02 June 2006


so today, i was commissioned by armando alegre on OPENSTUDIO to make "a drawing that explains why u like so much the blood in living things." i guess i do have some 'splainin' to do.

a couple of weeks ago in response to the appearance of two "museums" on OPENSTUDIO, i decided that maybe what was needed was more gallery curation. and so i started the plan to curate a show around a theme. for various reasons, i chose the theme bloody and set about commissioning and buying art with this theme. why bloody? good question. i guess for me blood has a lot of significance. and i honestly just find it somewhat amusing to make bloody cartoon characters.

we, as humans, place a lot of value on life -- the people most harshly punished are the ones who bring an end to human life (or who threaten the country, but that aside...). this reverance of human life also extends to other living creatures, some people even opting to never eat another (previously) living animal or using anything that might have harmed them. blood is inextricably tied to life. when i was reading "the second self" a while back, i was struck by how kids decide on whether or not something is "alive". more specifically, i was struck by the statement that spiders aren't alive "because we can kill them." which doesn't quite make sense when you get down to it, but in some way it does. on the whole, we don't think twice about killing insects or worms or things like that. maybe it's because they don't bleed. when making art on OPENSTUDIO, i often make things bloody. in particular, i'm drawn to the idea of cute gore. or cute monsters. the ability to show something that would in real life be really horrible but in a way that's estranged from all our connections to real life. it's cathartic in a sense. and by being able to laugh at something, you can begin to become unafraid of it in real life.

when we get an injury, we want to fix it. exposure of blood usually signifies a jeopardy to life; the one exception to this is menstruation. but, still, blood is not part of what we talk about, even though it plays a major role in our every day lives. we grow up watching nature shows where you see the lion hunting and then see the lion eating -- never the lion killing. nature minus the harshness. but, you know, nature isn't clean. it's bloody and messy and fearful. as someone who grew up in the country, i thought nothing of helping goats give birth, gutting my own fish, or of eating an animal i raised, etc. it was part of life. but then i moved to the city. in some sense, the nature of living was gone. i no longer had to fear being bitten by poisonous snakes, the deaths of my animals in the back yard/farm, predators. and i realized how sterile we humans try to make our lives. in some sense, i still feel that living in the city is just... strange.

but i don't think blood and fear and death and nature are things to be... well... feared. they just are. and it's more advantageous to feel capable of coping instead of being afraid of ever having to deal with them. we are mortal but our ideas (maybe according to plato) are eternal. but we shouldn't forget our mortality. we are rational animals, and sometimes it's nice to be reminded of the animal aspect. not everything in our world can be rationalized.

as for a more personal significance of blood, and at the risk of maybe revealing something about myself that i'm not proud of to the entire damn internet (or at least the portion that will see this), i went through several years of being (off and on) depressed and a self-injurer. and in some way, it's cathartic for me to externalize these things. to be able to laugh at myself. to realize that there are things in my life that may not be perfect, but that i always have the opportunity to change. to know that i went through this and survived makes the happiness that much sweeter.

so i guess i'll probably continue to make bloody cartoons for a while. it's a nice way to remind myself of my mortality, and to laugh at it and decide to live, anyway. sport death, maybe, to use the senior house motto.

yeah. sport death. only life can kill you.
it's better to face these things -- blood, death, disease, pain, fear
than to pretend they don't exist.

1 comment:

  1. hey laura, its good that u get those feelings out in a drawing, or many, remembering the source of life its an important thing to do. it make us more animals and it humbles the strongest animal to see its own blood. we are animals (on the human definition, as everything) but in the macro universal version," we are nothing more than tiny particules bouncing around", (the simbol(") means its a quote form my friend luis blackaller. he might have pirated the quote. i too miss the dirt, eventhough i was born in mexico city. i miss the ocean too. chicago has a lake but it is not the same.