The Revolutionary's Impermanent Death
We are in a theatre, but the actors are dead. On the stage there is a plot of dirt and tombstones marked in Arabic. We see each other. We listen to the stories that the graves have to tell us. This is the experience of Tania El Khoury's Gardens Speak.
The stories the audience members hear are the stories of those opposed to Assad who've died in the Syrian revolution. Each audience member privately hears an individual story whispered to them from a gravestone.
In my own life, I've been speculating more heavily than usual on death and mortality. Some of my parents' close friends have recently passed away, my dad brushed shoulders with death this summer in a bike accident, and one of my closest friends has a chronic disease that seems to be getting worse day by day. Death has intruded upon my thoughts uninvited.
With this newfound fixation of mine, I often find myself troubled by being the surviving party. What do we do to remember those whom we loved in life? How do we carry their stories on and honor them in our daily lives?
My mother's friend who passed away just over a year ago, is survived by his photography. His artistic renown has helped sustain him in memory. Butmy mother is not an artist. She has created only her children: my sister and me. Is it our job alone to act as vessels for her memory. What happens when we die? Will her memory die with us?
In Gardens Speak, the artist's relation to the deceased whose stories she tells is not familial, but national. Their stories are honored because of their contributes to the revolution.
So whose history gets to live on? If not my mother's, I don't particularly mind. It is as they say: