Dystopia and a Key

Years ago in 1991, someone I knew told me an arresting dream they’d had. I don’t totally remember it, but it was about terrible suffering and catastrophe. Most of the people in the dream were in trance like states with one or two raising the alarm. The dream impressed me as apocalyptic and I made an acrylic painting taking off from the dream. The painting now reminds me of the huge number of migrants fleeing war and persecution and it reminds me of the effects of climate change we’re already seeing and that some are having trouble acknowledging.

For a while now I’ve wanted to make the painting into a card deck, since I love card decks. It’s the opposite of Mirrors of the Heart favourable deck that I made in 1994. Recently, I’ve had the courage to move forward with the idea. I say courage because for a while I told myself that I shouldn’t put out images of the dark parts of life. But I’ve decided otherwise because I believe we can’t deal with trouble unless we first of all face it. So, I’m calling the deck Wake Up–The House is on Fire and the Water’s Rising!

To create the deck, I’ve taken many photos of the work, zeroing in on different groups and faces and cropping the images. The deck will have 25 small square cards, including one title card and all, except one, are scenes of extreme suffering. I also wanted to create one card not in the original painting that could symbolize what it would take to wake up. But since it’s beyond me to know what might allow that in different people, the idea of a key came to mind–a key to awakening that could mean different things to different people. The key image is one of the cards and I’m also putting it on the back of each card. I’ll be sending it off to Moo for printing and will let you know how it turns out.

Here’s the whole painting plus two of the cards, including the key.



4 thoughts on “Dystopia and a Key”

  1. This is brave.
    I don’t know how to respond artistically to the suffering round us. It is important that it is done but I find myself questioning whether my voice is needed if I am not also responding more practically or politically.
    But if you have been moved to do this it is right you should do it. Collectively, we should not let dystopia overpower us so we have no expression but meaningless abstracts or pretty scenes from privileged lives.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I feel a sense of responsibility for what I put into the world through my artwork. When I began this project, I didn’t want to add to despair and disempowerment by depicting suffering. So, as I mentioned in the post, I questioned whether I should even do the work. On the other hand, I didn’t want to turn away. I also didn’t want to include responses to the suffering that look overly simple. I have many questions about the work and am still pondering additions to the project. I think some of these will have to arise intuitively.

  2. Yes, you have the courage, I admire that. For me, it’s about the mystery when I think of evil in the world. But it exist, a lot of suffering. I love the idea of the key, and believe in the sense of your project. Thanks for remind us that sometimes there’s not enough with caring our good feelings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s