The kerosene lamp overhead makes a steady buzzing sound like an incandescent hive of bees. Mud walls. Mud floor. Mud bed. White paper windows. Smell of blood and chloroform. Cold. Three o'clock in the morning, December 1, North China, near Lin Chu, with the 8th Route Army. Men with wounds. Wounds like little dried pools, caked with blackbrown earth; wounds with torn edges frilled with black gangrene; neat wounds, concealing beneath the abscess in their depths, burrowing into and around the great firm muscles like a dammed-back river, running around and between the muscles like a hot stream; wounds, expanding outward, decaying orchids or crushed carnations, terrible flowers of flesh; wounds from which the dark blood is spewed out in clots, mixed with the ominous gas bubbles, floating on the fresh flood of the still-continuing secondary haemorrhage.
Old filthy bandages stuck to the skin with blood-glue. Careful. Belief moisten first. Through the thigh. Pick the leg up. Why it's like a bag, a long, loose red stocking. What kind of stocking? A Christmas stocking. Where's that find strong rod of bone now? In a dozen pieces. Pick them out with your fingers; white as a dog's teeth, sharp and jagged. Now feel. Any more left? Yes, here. All? Yes; no, here's another piece. Is this muscle dead? Pinch it. Yes, it's dead, Cut it out. How can that heal? How can those muscles, once so strong, now so torn, so devastated, so ruined, resume their proud tension? Pull, relax. Pull, relax. What fun it was! Now that is finished. Now that's done. Now we are destroyed. Now what will we do with ourselves?
Next. What an infant! Seventeen. Shot through the belly. Chloroform. Ready? Gas rushes out of the opened peritoneal cavity. Odour of feces. Pink coils of distended intestine. Four perforations. Close them. Purse string suture. Sponge out the pelvis. Tube. Three tubes. Hard to close. Keep him warm. How? Dip those bricks into hot water.
Gangrene is a cunning, creeping fellow. Is this one alive? Yes, he lives. Technically speaking, he is alive. Give him saline intravenously. Perhaps the innumerable tiny cells of his body will remember. They may remember the hot salty sea, their ancestral home, their first food. With the memory of a million years, they may remember other tides, other oceans, and life being born of the sea and sun. It may make them raise their tired little heads, drink deep and struggle back into life again. It may do that.
And this one. Will he run along the road beside his mule at another harvest, with cries of pleasure and happiness? No, that one will never run again. How can you run with one leg? What will he do? Why, he'll sit and watch the other boys run. What will he think? He'll think what you and I would think. What's the good of pity? Don't pity him! Pity would diminish his sacrifice. He did this for the defence of China. Help him. Lift him off the table. Carry him in your arms. Why, he's as light as a child! Yes, your child, my child.
How beautiful the body is: how perfect its pads; with what precision it moves; how obedient, proud and strong. How terrible when torn. The little flame of life sinks lower and lower, and with a flicker, goes out. It goes out like a candle goes out. Quietly and gently. It makes its protest at extinction, then submits. It has its day, then is silent.
Any more? Four Japanese prisoners. Bring them in. In this community of pain, there are no enemies. Cut away that blood-stained uniform. Stop that haemorrhage. Lay them beside the others. Why, they're alike as brothers! Are these soldiers professional man-killers? No, these are amateurs-in-arms. Workman's hands. These are workers-in-uniform.
No more. Six o'clock in the morning. God, it's cold in this room. Open the door. Over the distant, dark-blue mountains, a pale, faint line of light appears in the east. In an hour the sun will be up. To bed and sleep.
But sleep will not come. What is the cause of this cruelty, this stupidity? A million workmen come from Japan to kill or mutilate a million Chinese workmen. Why should the Japanese worker attack his brother worker, who is forced merely to defend himself. Will the Japanese worker benefit by the death of the Chinese? No, how can he gain? Then, in God's name, who will gain? Who is responsible for sending these Japanese workmen on this murderous mission? Who will profit from it? How was it possible to persuade the Japanese workmen to attack the Chinese Workman -- his brother in poverty; his companion in misery?
Is it possible that a few rich men, a small class of men, have persuaded a million men to attack, and attempt to destroy, another million men as poor as they? So that these rich may be richer still? Terrible thought! How did they persuade these poor men to come to China? By telling them the truth? No, they would never have cone if they had known the truth, Did they dare to tell these workmen that the rich only wanted cheaper raw materials, more markets and more profit? No, they told them that this brutal war was "The Destiny of the Race," it was for the "Glory of the Emperor," it was for the "Honour of the State," it was for their "King and Country."
False. False as hell!
The agents of a criminal war of aggression, such as this, must be looked for like the agents of other crimes, such as murder, among those who are likely to benefit from those crimes. Will the 80,000,000 workers of Japan, the poor farmers, the unemployed industrial workers -- will they gain? In the entire history of the wars of aggression, from the conquest of Mexico by Spain, the capture of India by England, the rape of Ethiopia by Italy, have the workers of those "victorious" countries ever been known to benefit? No, these never benefit by such wars. Does the Japanese workman benefit by the natural resources of even his own country, by the gold, the silver, the iron, the coal, the oil? Long ago he ceased to possess that natural wealth. It belongs to the rich, the ruling class. The millions who work those mines live in poverty. So how is he likely to benefit by the armed robbery of the gold, silver, iron, coal and oil from China? Will not the rich owners of the one retain for their own profit the wealth of the other? Have they not always done so?
It would seem inescapable that the militarists and the capitalists of Japan are the only class likely to gain by this mass murder, this authorized madness, this sanctified butchery. That ruling class, the true state, stands accused.
Are wars of aggression, wars for the conquest of colonies, then, just big business? Yes, it would seem so, however much the perpetrators of such national crimes seek to hide their true purpose under banners of high-sounding abstractions and ideals. They make war to capture markets by murder; raw materials by rape. They find it cheaper to steal than to exchange; easier to butcher than to buy. This is the secret of war. This is the secret of all wars. Profit. Business. Profit. Blood money.
Behind all stands that terrible, implacable God of Business and Blood, whose name is Profit. Money, like an insatiable Moloch, demands its interest, its return, and will stop at nothing, not even the murder of millions, to satisfy its greed. Behind the army stand the militarists. Behind the militarists stand finance capital and the capitalist. Brothers in blood; companions in crime.
What do these enemies of the human race look like? Do they wear on their foreheads a sign so that they may be told, shunned and condemned as criminals? No. On the contrary. they are the respectable ones. They are honoured. They call themselves, and are called, gentlemen. What a travesty on the name, Gentlemen! They are the pillars of the state, of the church, of society. They support private and public charity out of the excess of their wealth. they endow institutions. In their private lives they are kind and considerate. they obey the law, their law, the law of property. But there is one sign by which these gentle gunmen can be told. Threaten a reduction on the profit of their money and the beast in them awakes with a snarl. They become ruthless as savages, brutal as madmen, remorseless as executioners. Such men as these must perish if the human race is to continue. There can be no permanent peace in the world while they live. Such an organization of human society as permits them to exist must be abolished.
These men make the wounds.
Norman Bethune 1939
Help Me Publish the Book!!!
It's been a while since I've posted an entry here! The Madonna and Child Project has been completed, exhibited a few times, and continues to inspire people to blog about it, and even Motherhood Magazine to share my images. My long term goal however has yet to be realized. Ever since I started the first portraits five years ago I had hoped to make a book from the Madonna and Child Project. Each duo are actually a mother and child pair with a birth story. I chose these pairs partly based on the birth story involved, hoping to involve stories that reflect all kinds of different perspectives on motherhood. Each mother comes from a different walk of life with her own outlook and her own experiences to relate. From unassisted home birth to c- section, each mother has her own story. Some were moving to the point of tears- there are a few I still cannot read without crying. Some are hilarious and actually make me laugh to read them. I feel I owe it not only to myself but to the mothers who contributed to see this project through. I need to publish this as a book. First I attempted the conventional routes- I approached publishers all over and tried to sell them the project. I got a lot of wonderful feedback, but none were willing to take the risk and invest in my book. So... I decided to go the route of self- publishing. I investigated self publishing companies such as Trafford Books and decided I need to gather the funds to make this happen.
So now I'm asking you all to contribute and help me see this project through! I am getting professional photographer Vic Kirby to take beautiful photos of the original work, so every page will be rich in colour and depth. The resulting book will also have the help of layout professionals to make it really nop notch.
I'm asking for a minimum contribution of $10.00, but anything you can afford is welcome. For contributions of $50.00 and over I will send a print of one of the portraits. Anything over $200.00 and I will send you a large 11" by 16" giclee print, signed by the artist. Thank you so much! I will update you as contributions increase and let you know how it goes!
Catrin by Gillian Clarke
I can remember you, child,
As I stood in a hot, white
Room at the window watching
The people and cars taking
Turn at the traffic lights.
I can remember you, our first
Fierce confrontation, the tight
Red rope of love which we both
Fought over. It was a square
Environmental blank, disinfected
Of paintings or toys. I wrote
All over the walls with my
Words, coloured the clean squares
With the wild, tender circles
Of our struggle to become
Separate. We want, we shouted,
To be two, to be ourselves.
Neither won nor lost the struggle
In the glass tank clouded with feelings
Which changed us both. Still I am fighting
You off, as you stand there
With your straight, strong, long
Brown hair and your rosy,
Defiant glare, bringing up
From the heart’s pool that old rope,
Tightening about my life,
Trailing love and conflict,
As you ask may you skate
In the dark, for one more hour.
In my daughter’s world, fraught with danger,
Sharks swim at the deep end of the community swimming pool,
Long-clawed demons roam the hallways after dusk,
Sea lions emerge from wooded trails to snatch young girls,
And deadly dinosaurs tromp across highways.
In my world, fraught with danger,
Kids crack their skulls on cement and drown in a local swimming pool,
Rapists crawl into bedroom windows and abduct dreaming children after dusk,
Cougars prowling wooded trails clamp little sun-kissed heads in their jaws ,
And deadly drunk drivers explode family cars into red metal on the highways.
Don’t worry, I promise with a half smile,
I can slay dragons.
- Garth von Buchholz
So, I got a tattoo finally. I dropped my kids off at my friend Val's house, arrived at the Black Rose tattoo parlor literally shaking, and prepared for the big step. I wasn't just getting a tattoo, I was getting a pretty big tattoo, you see. I wanted something quite visible, right on my arm, and I wanted an owl.
Why an owl you ask? Often for me an owl has signified major change, for the better. When I was 18 and leaving my home town I saw an owl perched up on a telephone pole in the middle of the city. When I was first falling in love I saw an owl swoop down and fly slowly in front of the car, as if in slow motion. Now that I'm newly single, fresh out of marriage, I feel very positive about the changes in my life. The owl is for me an emblem of change and stability. It flies slowly and gently through the air, cunning and sharp, but always silent and serene.
Here are some photos of the tattoo in process, and the final result.
Respect the Breast
Check out the meme of my work! I found this on Respect The Breast, a pro- breastfeeding fan page on Facebook!
Breastfeeding and Roller Derby
What is it that we find so riveting about roller derby girls breastfeeding?
Photographer Russ Desaulniers snapped this photo of Yo' Mama who plays for BC's Anarchy Angels.
Perhaps it's the contrast. The idea of rollerderby, the fact it's a contact sport and a little bad-ass, combined with the soft, nurturing role of breastfeeding mother. It's also an archetypal image- the Madonna and Child image- but with a twist. It's slightly subversive to combine the image of a full contact sport with the role of motherhood, especially breastfeeding. Even the visual contrast of the hard equipment with the softness of breastfeeding is interesting. It's wonderful, because it questions our notions of what women are, and what it means to be female.
Blister Sister and Scarlet by Kate Wilhelm
I included the above photo in my Sunday Feature on Kate Wilhelm. Wilhelm herself writes: "Derby throws any notions of femininity in your face. Yet many derby girls are mothers, (perhaps the ultimate "feminine" vocation), and the bouts are extremely family friendly. Immediately I wanted to get to know more about the women behind the derby personas. So, I invited myself into their homes, their private domestic spaces, the arena that is historically and culturally seen as women's space. I want the apparent incongruity of a derby girl in a domestic setting to cause the viewer to think about that incongruity and wonder if it is perhaps nothing more than a construct."
I love these images because they broaden our idea of what it means to be a woman. These women are all strong and a little dangerous, but undeniably female and maternal as well. It shows different layers and facets of what it means to be female. It also shows a unique perspective on breastfeeding, and the more breastfeeding images we have out there the less likely it will be taboo.
End of Movember!
With November at an end I know that Movember Mustaches will be trimmed as well. I decided to put a call out to my fansite to preserve at least a few of these mustaches for posterity. As you might already know- Movember is an awareness and fundraising program for men's health, especially prostate cancer. The intent is to take some of the stigma away from discussing men's health issues by opening the dialogue using humour and the visual cue of the mustache. On November 1st men can register with campaigns such as Movember Canada with a clean shaven face, and in the process of growing facial hair become essentially walking billboards for prostate health.
I do believe Roller Derby deserves it's own special paragraph on the subject of Movember. If you're involved in Roller Derby you'll notice Movember bouts, Movember scrimmages and other fund raising efforts by the derby community. Below you'll see a photo submitted by the legendary Noah Backtalk- Derby coach, Captain, referee and player extraordinaire. Check out his page on Movember Canada!
"Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne Australia, Movember has grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate, with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland. In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health cause across the globe, from Russia to Dubai, Hong Kong to Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, and everywhere in between.
No matter the country or city, Movember will continue to work to change established habits and attitudes men have about their health, to educate men about the health risks they face, getting them to act on that knowledge thereby increasing the chances of early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment.
In 2010, nearly 119,000 Canadian Mo Bros and Mo Sistas got on board, raising $22.3 million CAD."- Movember Canada
Of those submitted- my favourite by far is the 'stash above, sported Thomas Dannenberg. This is a mustache is a stash and a half.
It's still possible to donate on behalf of prostate health! Please click on this link to DONATE!
Sunday Feature- Jennifer McNichols
I had the pleasure of getting to know artist Jennifer McNichols online when we were both included in an exhibition called Mothers at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Part of her series titled "Let Them Eat Cake" was included in the exhibition, and I had the pleasure of seeing it in person. The series was inspired by her experiences with cesarean section birth and the emotional turmoil which followed. Jennifer uses cake- a very traditional domestic item- to explore the complicated feelings which arose from her c-section.
Self- Preservation 2008- 2010
The work which I saw in person at the show in Chicago was called "Self- Preservation." It is a series of four mason jars with slices of white cake in each one. The jars are each labeled with different words- "Betrayed, Failure, Empty, Powerless." The delivery of the message is interesting. Canning and preserving are a typically female occupation, and a very traditional one. There's something banal and simple about canned items which contrasts powerfully with the messages. The use of jars also suggests that these feelings are literally bottled up.
Several of her pieces employ the use of whole cakes as a metaphor for the human body. Carved and Breached are two photographs which depict a cake which is carved or sectioned to mimic the actions on the human body in cesarean section. There's a visceral quality to these works- the fondant icing mimics skin and there is a vulnerable quality to these cakes which cause one to almost identify with them as persons. It's hard not to wince when looking at them, especially if you've experienced a c- section yourself.
Breached 2008- 2010
Mourned 2008- 2010
"From 2008 through 2010 I created and photographed a series of handmade and hand-decorated cakes and accompanying installation pieces exploring the feelings experienced by many women who suffer for the convenience of others through unnecessary and unplanned surgical childbirth. In so doing I hope to give form to the emotional landscape inhabited by many such women in solitude and silence while those around them celebrate, and to help those who have difficulty relating to post-Cesarean mothers explore the emotions felt by women they know and love.
The cakes, and the photographs of them, are intended to draw on a variety of touchpoints. There are their specific references, of course, to the restraints, drugs, and psychological aftereffects of unwanted Cesareans, but the medium is also the message. The white-fondant-covered cakes partake of both the white-tablecloth celebration and the funeral, highlighting the distance that can divide those with direct experience of trauma from the world around them despite what appear to be shared rituals. Their smooth surface but imperfect contours are suggestive of the vulnerable and naked human body, and their ghostly pallor hints at the inner corpus exposed under harsh lights in surgery. In the act of baking and decorating the cakes, I made and remade that captive flesh, building it up and staring it down through the lens of my camera." -Jennifer McNichols
Cold Comfort 2008- 2010
Sunday Feature- Bonnie Lynn Polnaszek
This week I'm just writing a quick little feature on some lovely baby items. If you're looking for Christmas gifts for a baby, look no further than Bonnie Baby. It's an etsy site of hand made items by Bonnie Lynn Polnaszek. Why shop at big box stores when you can buy at the source?
A blog on art, roller derby and life.
I'm an artist and mother of two in Courtenay, BC. I've completed a project called the "Madonna and Child Project," and I'm now working on a series of roller derby inspired drawings. In my spare time I play roller derby with the Brick House Betties.