Search Deep, Look Deeper

The Ineffable Condition is a series that gets to respond both in an artistic and therapeutic way to what’s happening to those who are forced to abscond the throne of selfhood due to Alzheimer's disease. Who will play their unremembered part? Who can make sure a kernel of the self will survive to the end?

Works of literature such as Debra Dean's The Madonnas of Leningrad, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams, Samantha Harvey’s The Wilderness, Diane Keaton’s ThenAgain, and Lisa Genova’s Still Alice pay heed to the possibility that a few fundamental qualities may ultimately survive under all the rubble of a permanently altered self albeit in a radically disrupted future. At their best, desperately searching for a silver lining, these books emphasize the idea of Alzheimer’s as an occasion for a journey into the past in search of the real self waiting to finally come alive in all its previously thwarted potential.

This has not being my mother's experience. Her fight with Alzheimer's can not be defined by wishful metaphors. Day after day, no longer able to pluck the right words to whisper in my ear out of all the noises the world made around her, I've witnessed her crumble into an unrecognizable shape of her old self, sinking without a trace into the abyss. She has forgotten faces and names, forgotten where she is, her place in the world, her loved ones. Herself. With no points of reference, she is stuck in the middle of nowhere, a monument to what was. Escalating mental and emotional chaos has become the only possible outcome other than the end.

I simply dismiss lived experience and medical facts in favor of flights of artistic fancy. The most common cause of dementia - a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person's ability to function independently - Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. It is a terrifying disease not least because there is no simple test for it as it is complex, easily mistaken for other neural disorders, and can only be absolutely identified after death. Yet, art is my love language and The Ineffable Condition is my love song to my mother, a serenade to what she once was and what has become captured as portraits of her outter and inner self.

Highly textured, selectively cropped, half hidden, expressive yet free of precise detailing, these portraits - forms simplified into flat sections of color - create tension through the truncation of space; they dominate the whole frame, physically touching all sides, pressing close to the picture plane, almost into the viewer's space as if to ask: Can we talk about pain? Do you know how? Are you lost? Lonely? Which inner muscle of your heart is working too hard to compensate for the other muscles of your heart? Are you running on empty? Can you make it? Do you want to ask for help?

  • Visual Influences

Chuck Close - From afar, his artworks might look like regular depictions of human face, but getting up close we find out that they are composed of individual color squares or photos, carefully placed to make a bigger picture.

Jenny Saville (early period) - Her paintings challenged beauty in unprecedented ways and presented stunned viewers with new ideas of the aesthetics, ones that breathe exaggeration, mutilation, even violence, as inevitable parts of our reality.