The last few days have been difficult for me to digest, both in terms of the events that have happened in Egypt as well as my people’s reaction to them (Check here for news on Egypt in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week). I doubt I have ever been more emotionally stretched and fatigued in my life, with every single one of my personal beliefs and principles being tested and tried. I believe that I have failed in every one of these tests and trials, and have been introduced, much to my surprise, to a very sinister part of myself. I thought I had met them all.
As always, when life becomes too difficult to bear and its demons too menacing, I invite said demons over for some biscuits & white tea and we all look at some Art together (Demons like Art- it’s ‘wrong’ for a reason).
The events starting the 28th of June in Egypt have left every sensible Egyptian questioning their identity, which is a hefty thing to do over tea and biscuits. So I found the perfect artist whose work taps into the question of identity, without being too overbearing about defining it. Ben Dehaan’s latest set of photographic experiments have led him to a series of portraits aptly titled “Uncured”.
Simple, straight forward portraits with a light hearted palette, are left to slowly melt into eerie and terrifying abstractions. Imagine Jackson Pollock himself slowly disintegrating into one of his drip paintings. The process DeHaan used is simple: Traditional printers treat the image they are reproducing onto paper with UV light, a process that allows UV sensitive inks (typically used in commercial digital printing) to dry instantaneously and avoid messy blots and smudges. Basically, DeHaan skipped the UV treatment and hung the photographs vertically, letting the ink melt faces and busts into remnants of whom they once represented. The result is the bastard child of the works of Chuck Close and Marlene Dumas. This is the artist’s personal reaction to the crisp, digitally altered, perfect pictures we have gotten so accustomed to, where existence and perceptions decay and tire, rather than enhance and defy time.
On DeHaan’s website here you can watch a time lapse of the melting ink. I found it pretty terrifying as a deterioration of the Self, but even more so as a mirror of myself and my understanding of what it was to be an Egyptian in the last few days of our second uprising. A brutal, beautiful and ugly mess.