Artists' Television Access

The Window Gallery: a “space for…conversations…about death” — Still time to see this strong work.

The following essay is a powerful statement on how our society’s refusal to embrace death causes more suffering. Come by and see how Angela Simione faced the problem. Through March 2015.09 (750x1000) (2)

She got sick when I was 29. When I was thirty, she died. It was January. Cold. I curled up with my

crochet hook and I kept my hands busy.

Looking back, I see it as an attempt at repair; each stitch, an act of healing. A simultaneous meditation

and distraction.
In the weeks following her death, I would wake up crying; a mess of sadness. I hid myself. I didn’t want

anyone to see me cry but my confused despair was impossible to hide. I was ashamed of my red eyes.

For as sympathetic as people were, they were equally uncomfortable. I was deep within the landscape

of my mother’s death (and the early confrontation with my own mortality) and I was in it alone.

There are no spaces for these conversations in our culture. No one wants to talk about death over

morning coffee. Or afternoon coffee. Or after-dinner drinks. And after a few weeks, there is a

collective pressure for one to bounce back, for the grieving to subside, for a smile to flicker and pull at

the corners of one’s cheeks again. The pressure to resume one’s previous dance, to return to business

as usual is torturous. I couldn’t stand it. Still, I wore dark sunglasses and waterproof mascara. I tried

hard to contain the mess of my sadness. I tried to control my tears. Sometimes, I would suddenly start

crying on the street. Never wailing or sobbing, no bunched up red face, just tears silently running from

my eyes. The dark glasses and waterproof mascara were my preventative maintenance. They helped

me prevent myself from making other people uncomfortable. They helped me prevent my mother’s

death from spilling on to their lives, such an unwelcome topic, such an inconvenient contagion. They

prevented me from embarrassing myself. Nevertheless, the tears came. An overflow. A mode of

expression that wouldn’t be denied. A supplemental voice.
Eventually, I got angry about the silence but I didn’t know where to go to say the things I needed to say.

I didn’t know where to go to find people who were interested in talking about death and its aftermath.

Behind my dark glasses, I was stoic. Straight-faced. I marched across this city silently, clad in black and

smile-less. I noticed that no matter what I wore or how I looked, someone was bound to notice me. It

was then that I discovered the power of my body to speak for me, to create an area for discussion and

exchange of ideas. My personal billboard. My own private gallery wall. My mobile wailing wall.

Taking phrases from my personal diary, lines from deeply loved songs, and scattered bits of my own

poetry, I began to speak of my mother’s death. I embedded my longing for her in the clothing I wore. I

broadcasted my anguish, my confusion, my loss, my unbelievable anger, and my longing for a reckoning.

I emblazoned my feelings across handmade sweaters, each stitch bearing witness to my silent suffering.

They spoke the words that I couldn’t say without completely falling apart.
Now, 4 years later, the repair that I was attempting feels as if it has largely taken place. Presented at

ATA in their entirely are my “sweaters of death”, a fragmented poem of sorts, my “work of mourning”.

Angela Simione


 

 


One thought on “The Window Gallery: a “space for…conversations…about death” — Still time to see this strong work.

  1. To whom it may concern,
    I noticed the sweaters, but did not have a lot of time.
    I wondered what the lines of words meant or their context.This is such a beautiful testimony to the love of a daughter for a mother. I am touched by it. I wonder if you would be available to let me interview you. I am collecting interviews with women artists.
    Thank you
    Molly Hankwitz
    please get my email from Fara

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