If you’ve walked along Cleveland Street in Redfern lately, perhaps you’ve noticed a striking new work of graffiti art: Transparent June by the Austrian artist Nychos. Known for exploring themes of morbid corporeality and temporality, Nychos created this piece in homage to Lord Frederic Leighton’s famous Victorian oil painting Flaming June.
At this week’s regular writing meetup, SSOA members penned written responses to both images. First, participants were given ten minutes to write about Transparent June. Next, they viewed her flaming counterpart – but for this task they had less time: barely five minutes.
Read on for two glowingly visceral responses by Matt Jackson and Rosalinda Corazon – the industrious writers also featured in one of last week’s blogs – and note that the titles of their pieces just happen to rhyme. Seems to be a week where everything’s appearing in pairs!
Have you ever wondered? If you pare away our outer selves, the clothing and hair and make-up and skin, what you’re left with? What lies beneath?
You start to see it I guess, in a tilt-your-head squint-your-eyes kind of way, if you break us down to our component parts. The organs and skeletal framework, the nerve endings and raw muscle. What separates all and nothing but an electrical pulse feeding through the cortex and lobes of our brain? We’re slabs of meat.
It’s a scary thing, to remove yourself from your consciousness, your awareness of the world around you, and understand: the pumping of your heart and flow of blood around your veins, the air you take, is all that’s keeping you alive.
Without that? Dust on the wind.
You might be frightened by that. You might find it negative, nihilistic. But that’s just a first reaction, the first step in the thought process. For when you take that knowledge and let it cascade … the world is such a beautiful place.
Put it in context. It’s a part of the whole. An underlying one, running away in the background of our existence, but let’s not be stupid, yeah? It’s the foundation of all we know.
So when you take a holistic approach, a big picture view, all of a sudden everything of value is enhanced, sharpened, a two-D image shaded for the extra dimensions.
Nothing really changes. Nought but your perception, and what a wonderful thing that is. Add a stake, take away that sense of invincibility, and it’s amazing how quickly the things that truly matter crystallise for you.
Life is a fragile thing. Take it for what it’s worth.
Take for example the sleeping maid, curled in her rest and drifting through the void on the scent of flowers. Whole on the outside, but an entire world hidden beneath.
© Matt Jackson
The Skinny on Thin
I could still sense the rivers of life within, red liquid through my veins. Parched, malnourished, too weak to carry my bag up the steps, I crumbled to the ground, curled to a tiny comforting ball.
And I could still sense substance. At the top of my thighs. If I looked in a mirror there was shape where no shape should be.
A disappearing nebulous ethereal fairy should not have the curves of a woman.
My flimsy saffron shift hung loosely on my bones. I turned my face to the left and gently nudged my collarbone with my chin. So satisfying, so fragile. My fine fingertips felt my cheekbones, sharp, distinctive in a translucent visage. My expression faded as my emotions shifted from dissatisfaction to peace. I was disappearing. Finer and thinner and tinier and on my way to a new beginning.
Spectres howled around me, mocking my delusions. I may not return. It may be a once only deal, this life. If I didn’t sustain my body, my castle, it may crumble to dust.
Tears were the only streams still flowing, until they too evaporated.
I was almost gone.
How I love my saffron dress, full and flowing beneath my golden tresses.
Dreams are peaceful, drifting along streams through a paradise found.
Carefree dreaming. The other me. A parallel me, living within a being raised in a fantasy, parallel life.
She kept me going did Parallel Me, snoozing inside in all her spoilt splendour. She was loved and prized, validated and respected and she shone, her beauty fulfilled.
I feel her now, punching from within, forcing me to bring her to the surface, to unleash her. What will she do as she turns about to face me?
Where are we as we hover at our golden awakening, Parallel Me and Yours Truly?
Oh gorgeous gracious, Parallel Me, sleep the slumber of your quiddity and dream, dream away the darkness. You were born for your golden light. Embrace its arrival.
I prepare for my introduction.
© Rosalinda Corazon
Transparent June photo credit: Sharon Dean