Monday, February 23, 2009

The Escapist

So, I thought about calling this blog post "Dead Girls and Bondage", but then I realized what kind of readers I would attract and how terribly disappointed they would be....

I've been suffering from a vicious bout of insomnia these days. Not that this is anything new. It always takes me a while to fall asleep and I've had insomniac phases on
occasion all of my adult life. Torturous, yes, but I've been trying to make the best of it by getting some creative work done instead of sleeping. Not that this actually HELPS me go to sleep. Anyone who does not chronically suffer from insomnia may believe the advice "Drink a cup of hot herbal tea and all will be fine", but it is a big fat lie....The only thing that helps sometimes is reading (but DEFINITELY not t.v. or the internet!!)or changing where you are sleeping, i.e. go lie down on the couch for a while. The problem usually is you have zero desire to do these things. All you want is to sleep and it's the one thing you absolutely can't do....

Anyway, as I said I'm doing the lemonade from lemons approach and working on a lot of new art and jewelry and even some hand-altered clothing. I've been buying vintage photographs on ebay on and off for the past six weeks or so.

Whenever they come in the mail I often find myself deciding to keep them for my collection rather than using them for anything (I've been collecting vintage photographs for over ten years.) Every once in a while, however, I do get one that inspires me. Last night it was the one pictured at the beginning of this post.

A young girl, her dark hair braided, a somewhat pensive look on her face, her hands in her lap. I got out my sewing materials and sat down at the dining room table but then suddenly realized I wasn't interested in stitching the picture. I started thinking about the girl. What hid behind her serious expression? I imagined her, a good girl always doing as she is told, but secretly wishing to run off and join the circus. She wouldn't want to be a trapeze artist is a glittering costume or to ride white horses. She would dream of being an escape artist.

I have to admit this idea may have been planted in my head by Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay which I read about a month ago. One of the main characters trains to be an Houdini style escape artist when he is a boy in Prague. He practices cracking locks and hiding picks inside his cheek. Later, in New York, he creates a sucessful comic book with his cousin called The Escapist. Of course, the idea and longing for escaping is also symbolic in the book (the character is an Eastern European Jew at the beginning of Hitler's tyranny)the stories of escapism and the obsession people have brought to the art really stuck with me.

I started thinking about chains. I put som
e gold ribbon around her like some bonds that she was dreaming of escaping from. I added some vintage snack skin copper chain (perhaps a snake handler would be another of her dream jobs...)and black lacquer chain to the side.

My husband came and took a look at the photograph sometime before I had done much work on it. "I wonder what they meant by that," he said. He had read the back of the picture which read 28.5.1940- Im Gedanken an Eure Annelie (In Memory of your Annelie.) "It sounds to me like the girl must have died."

It seemed strange, almost spooky, to m
e to be working on a picture of a girl who died in childhood in 1940. She would be in her 70s now, so of course she could still be living. To know that she probably passed away so long ago made me wonder if I should stop the project. But then again, the show must go on....

As a last touch I added a black glass pendant to her neck. I imagined it was from her beloved uncle Horace, the only adult who understands her. It is a symbol to her to never stop dreaming. When I showed the finished work to my husband he said, "Hmm...Very bondage-like." Not what I had intende
d, but I can see what he means...

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