In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
In Flanders Fields, John McCrae. 1919.
Making a piece about the 20’s was not only exciting as it truly stroke a chord in me. What not to love about those times – from a romanticized point of view of course, since times of reconstruction after a devastating war are never really that much fun, – from the sassy flappers to the density of the fine arts? Particularly, when I think about those times I think straight German Expressionism and Caligari and Der Blaue Reiter and Louise Brooks (I had a little obsession with her few years ago,) but I also think in a whole world mourning their dead in that horrible massacre known as the WWI, a conflict that would change the face of the world forever. All that new, exciting world, adorned with feathers and Art Deco, swinging at the sound of jazz, emerged from pain and the daunting feeling of the brevity of life. Nearly everybody knew of somebody that had gone to war to never return. 16 million deaths. After all ended, there were reasons to celebrate being alive.
In Das Leben ist Kurz (Life is Brief) – the title is an evident homage to my beloved German Expressionism – all I intended to do was to create another piece that could remember us of our fragility. Humankind seems to remember those things only after periods of monumental crisis. That no matter how much gold, or ornaments, in the end, there will be nothing less than skulls and bones, screaming how ridiculously equal and ordinary we are. The dragonfly landed on the skull, is a reminder of our entrapment in illusions, being life, as we know it, the biggest of all. Poppies are the symbol of sleep and death, used in Rome and Greek myths as offerings to the ones who left to the underworld, but, also of remembrance of the ones who died in war. So I wanted to create the field of golden poppies as a way to preserve the remembrance – and the lesson.
The only glamour and glory war can bring is to sacrifice oneself to teach human lessons on the illusion of power and grandeur.
The only utility of war is to remind us of our foolishness and insignificance.