untitled billboard (generic love)


Commissioned for the Billboard of Feiertag Gallery in Kassel, Germany. This printed image is of a drawing of a love letter. I wrote a love letter in English and asked Malte Stiehl to translate it into German. I then made a drawing of a photograph of his translation and the surface of his desk where the translated letter rested. This drawing was then photographed and used as the image for the billboard. The following text is what I asked Malte to translate:

This is a printed image of a drawing of a love letter, it is not love itself, it is a printed image of a drawing of a love letter. I decided to love you, and this is a sincere attempt to produce something as close to that experience as I can in the forms of image, language, and representation. I thought if I presented a love letter, its conventional form might unconsciously inspire suspicion, and it would be quite small and hard to read outdoors on a billboard. So, I decided to make a drawing of a love letter instead and photograph it. I don’t know how to read or write in German, so I wrote a love letter in English and sent it to Malte. This is a printed image of a drawing of a love letter he wrote in German, translated from the one in English that I sent to him. I did this so you’d know I am sincere. I love you. I am uncertain of how to do this, and what it fully means to do so. This love letter addresses you, a reader, from a voice that is presumably mine, an author, but in the end it will be ideal if we face the challenges of this age in relation, blurring solitary and solidary, beyond resistance to transformation. The end could be a revolutionary becoming, a beloved community.

I love you. You are miraculous. I love you because I am compelled to - when an experience, a kind of chance encounter takes place with a person, a brilliant alive explosive sensitive thoughtful being, love is what makes sense. It is chaotic, it is uncertain, and its absence, in the wake of lust for power or anxiety, is the depths of pain. I don’t know if I will ever understand you or be understood by you, but I love you. I love sharing with you. You have an intent observation and focus that makes me feel like you are truly interested in me and care about what I think and how I feel. I have been changed by our relation, because you decided to care about me, to be patient with me and to teach me. Thank you for being my teacher. You are thoughtfully open, protecting our experience from shame or humiliation. I have witnessed you practice love when you don’t want to or don’t feel love. Thank you, receiving this practice has helped me heal wounds and mindfully consider the future we are creating.

Kindness and love are not the same thing. Love requires us to be honest together, to be courageous and confrontational when harm is enacted. The conflict we’ve experienced together and the process of addressing it is more important than language can signify. The depth of love is found in this place. There was so much fear before that confrontation, and anger for the hurt that had been done. We didn’t ignore it or flee. We fought. It is such a gift to experience and witness that courage and awkwardness and vulnerability and anxiety in transforming. Our relation strengthens our courage, our openness, and vulnerability. It reminds us that we are never alone. It can be extraordinarily difficult to trust people and love is terrifying. Thank you. Thank you for loving me, for showing me safety and openness, for giving me a place to rest, for caring for me when I have been despairing and brokenhearted and lonely and ill. You fed me, you clothed me, you gave me life, you taught me what relation is, you taught me to face fear and injustice, you taught me how to be goodness. In this way truth becomes true through community.

If we attempt language communication without love we are sound with no meaning. If we possess knowledge and an understanding of reality, with courage and power, but lack love, we have nothing. If we give everything away to people who are suffering, but do not have love, our gift has no goodness. We’re not writing about a sentimental feeling, we’re not writing about an affectionate type of love. We’re writing about a love that is a creative, understanding belief in everybody. A love that isn’t given in exchange for anything. Love is a refusal of value. Love is generic, outside of buying or selling. Love begins to love everybody because we remarkably exist, not because we are likable. Love is like trusting in a better time unfolding, love is sometimes like kindness. It is liberation from jealousy, from insecurity, from narcissism. It is in awe of some kind of dignity in all spacetimematter throughout the universe, it is liberation from the terror of trying to survive, it is even-tempered, it forgives people. Love is a proclamation and a party for transcendent becoming. Love is life, together.

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