Man from Memories

As children, we rationalize our identities based off of the stories that have been told to us of us.  We hear everything from grand retellings of generations long gone to semi-hyperbolic recountings of ourselves at younger states.  When we come of age, we must step back and distinguish the truth from the fiction.  We must recognize the palimpsest that we have become and gradually peel back the layers.  At the age of 19, I had been out of a state-recognized household of abuse and neglect for a full year and had begun to recognize the "self" that I was experiencing.  A subject of constant manipulation and psychological domestic-warfare, I had to evaluate and come to terms with the man that I had become.  [This existential plight often associated with the trite groanings of every first-world teen seemed to have gained a universal validity due to my experiences as a certifiable underdog.]

I had grown up within a 21st century world with the boundaries of a 1940's household.  We were a forceful nuclear family; we were expected to be dressed for dinner with our shoes lined up at the door at the stroke of 5:30 when my father arrived home.  This was the way things were until the Thanksgiving of my thirteenth birthday when my father sat us down after ordering Italian and declared that he would no longer be living at our home.  After that, the older siblings escaped our powerful father's legal bullshit that eventually endowed him with full custody (despite innumerable examples of his abuse and neglect from Social Services and court-appointed psychologists).  Between this period of constant turmoil and the equally brainwashing experiences beforehand, I came out not knowing fact from fiction.  Freedom was a real whirlwind as I discovered that the world wasn't as scary as it had been made out to be. 

Under the watch of contemporary artist Faith McClure, I uncovered my past through visual metaphors and controlled fugue states.  I used family photographs taken and composed by my father to illustrated my memories from the perspective of an Other.  People kept telling me how much I looked like my father so I wanted to use my next experiment to deal with my anatomy.  I took these photographs and adhered them to my skin with resin and only when the piece began to shrink against my bones did I endure the pain of tearing each memory off.

This cathartic experience was one of physical and mental anguish but again felt trivial.  I wanted to make a trophy of my performance, seeing that this was an item that was often overly treasured in my household.  Using plaster and wood, I made a cast of my head and adorned it with my image.

In all my sessions with court-appointed therapists, I often found that it was necessary to verbally communicate an idea to another individual so that there was some witness to an event in order to move on.  For me, this triad of processes was that testament; I said what needed to be said and moved on.  I still have these remnants.  I have the diary that I stole from my mother, the photographs, the court documents that said I would kill myself if my father were to get full custody.  I don't look at them because it doesn't matter, what matters is what you make of it and I've made something of it.

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