I’ve been excited about this post all week. Today’s update comes to us from Annie, who’s currently teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Her story behind the images is so personal and poignant that it needs some extra space. Enjoy the weekend and get ready for a news update on Monday!
"In the fall of 2006, one of my best friends died two weeks before I was to leave for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Despite surgery to fix a preexisting heart condition, Cassandra had a heart attack and died on her way to retrieving her misplaced purse."
"My heart was entirely broken. Cassandra, my friend, was the most inspiring and selfless person that ever graced me with her presence. She encouraged me to be myself and taught me how to live without fear. I thought that it would be easy to run away, but I couldn't forget, or even temporarily escape, the memory of our friendship. My trip to Chile was an attempt to find what I had lost."
"When I arrived in Buenos Aires, I was exhausted by the naiveté of my classmates and frustrated by the fact that I had no one to share my loss with. So I took off for Chile during Semana Santa with no significant plans and only one night's reservation at a hostel."
"On my first morning in Santiago, I wandered the neighborhood and stumbled upon these paintings on my first morning in Santiago. I was amazed at how the images so clearly articulated my feelings at the time."
"The first painting, the sinewy blue two-headed person, captures the intense agony I felt. It is amazing how perfect it is: the clouded mind, the explosion of essential matter from mouth and heart, even the words "...pena..." and "solo yo!" I could identify with the internal struggle that manifested within and emerged uncontrolled from the person's body. It is unbelievable that I happened upon such a piece of art during such a difficult period of my life. Some people might think of this phenomenon as destiny or fate, but I think that perhaps it is simply that I could relate."
"Under Pinochet, many Chileans experienced horrific violence and the loss of their fundamental rights. Fortunately, I never experienced such dehumanization personally. I cannot imagine that anyone could ever feel safe or secure again after living through the repression and violence of Pinochet’s policies. I don't think I could ever go to another soccer game without imagining soldiers slaughtering my friends and neighbors on the field. This specific piece of street art spoke to me as a person who was suffering. I doubt that there is anyone in the world who could not relate to it in a way, whether miniscule or significant."
"I also felt a strong connection to the painting of the hooded man in the tunnel. I am fascinated by the mystery of tunnels. There a sense of hollowness yet comfort in the nearby undeniable density that complements the empty space. The two states of existence are codependent, just as my sorrow could not exist had I never experienced great joy. I felt that the darkness of the man in the tunnel, shaded by circumstance, would be transformed upon his exit. His feelings of powerlessness to change such circumstances, represented in the painting by ill-defined hands, were not permanent. This painting gave me more hope for the future than any consoling words."
"I will never believe that there was a reason for Cassandra to die. I feel like these paintings are on the same plane of thought. We may not be entirely in control and we may be hurting, but there is no shame in sharing our feelings. It is the acknowledgement of such universalities that makes us feel human again."