They say that this is a place irredeemable, scarred irrevocably by its own history, destined to forever be the occupier of the darkest corner of collective memory, the ruins just a desolate reminder that the worst may happen when you are least prepared for it – and that you should always be prepared.
I grew up in a world of worst-case scenarios, my schooldays spent learning to map out possibilities and figure out probabilities and plan for every eventuality. So that I, like all the other children of this land, would be ready. It is the way of my people to hold close what happened, and although there is no one still living who can give a first-hand account of the events that occurred in the time of my great-grandparents' youth, we conduct our lives as if things long past happened yesterday and might happen again, as soon as tomorrow, because ours is a world tried and found guilty by fear and cowardice, and the sentence must be harsh if the judge can perceive no capacity for change.
Their soldiers bring me here as punishment. My limbs are shackled, the chains intended to ensure that I endure the sight of this place for a long enough measure of time. I must have no chance of escape, and I am forbidden to close my eyes or turn away. They believe that if I see this place, I will understand the rightness of their doctrines and stop shouting out on behalf of our dreams. They think they will wipe out my belief that human potential is tied up with courage. They think I will stop demanding that protection be tempered with hope.
But when we arrive here, we gasp. We have been told only of crumbling ruins shrouded in dark clouds, of a place from which people once ran for their lives, struggling to breathe. But before us is a building that tries to stand tall, one column held up by no apparent means, defying the laws of physics to assert its presence here against all odds. And we see blue break through the grey in a sky that plays host to a thousand butterflies. I hear the click of one lock and then another. My wrists and my ankles are free, and I run towards the past and the future, both. And one of the soldiers starts to slowly applaud. We can never – must never – forget. But there is redemption.
Media: Acrylic and mixed media
Surface: Box canvas
Size: 16.14" x 20.08" x 0.59" (depth); 41cm x 51cm x 1.5cm (depth)
Copyright © 2009-2020 Diana Naomi April Shaul and Jacquie Samantha Shaul. All rights reserved.