Standing together in Second Life

Stand: Relay D'Alliez
Stand, Relay D’Alliez

Stand is the title of a portrait exhibition currently open in a purpose-built gallery above the Relay Rocker’s Relay d’Alliez region and a part of Rocker’s Relay for Life campaign.

The portraits, all of which have been taken by Catalina Staheli, feature some of those who have been faced with cancer in one of its many forms and have either survived, or are living within its ever-present shadow – and in one case, someone who lost their life to the disease.

Each of the pictures features several images of the subject, which change every 30 seconds to show them in different poses (and even different forms, if they use more than one avatar in SL), with one image of each of them offering a quote.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Les Karsin
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Les Karsin

Each of the framed portraits is displayed in its own space or alcove, allowing visitors to focus solely on each in turn without distraction. In addition, those featured in the portraits have each written a brief personal story, which offer moving reading, and can be obtained through the information givers found within the gallery space along with RFL kiosks for those wishing to make donations to RFL of SL and the American Cancer Society.

Taken together, the portraits and the gallery space – also, I believe, designed by Catalina – present a moving and inspirational exhibition, and full kudos should go to her for developing the idea for the exhibit and for producing such remarkable pictures. Thanks, as well, should go to the Relay Rockers for agreeing to host such an exhibition; even though there were some misgivings at first, as Trader Whiplash, the Rocker’s Co-Founder, freely admits.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Raven Cedarbridge
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Raven Cedarbridge

“As always I asked the same question I have asked of the Relay Rockers for 11 years,” he said. “How much work it involved and how much will it raise?  The answer was unclear.  We weren’t even sure it would raise any money at all!  We talked for a few days.  We met resistance in several directions from the team, including myself.”

“I was however wrong,” he added with a laugh. “I totally underestimated the importance of this event. This exhibition  not only captures the essence of survivorship, it celebrates our diverse community here in Second Life and does much to explain how a virtual world can become the seventeenth largest Relay For Life in the world!”

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: some of the "Why I Relay" challenge portraits
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: some of the “Why I Relay” challenge portraits

Also on display in the gallery are some of Catalina’s Why I Relay challenge, which was also featured at this year’s Fantasy Faire. The challenge offered anyone supporting RFL of SL with the opportunity to have their photo taken by Catalina, together with a short message on why they participate in RFL.

This is a remarkable, inspirational and poignant exhibit; inspirational in the stories that are to be found here, and poignant through the presence of the portrait set of Riko Kamachi, one of the early participants in the exhibit, but who sadly lost her life to cancer before she could provide her story. Instead, she is remembered here in pictures and in the words of those who knew her.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Riko Kamachi
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Riko Kamachi

Stand, will be open through until the end of the RFL Weekend on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July 2015, and I urge you to find the time to pay a visit; it beautifully encapsulates and spirit and meaning of Relay for Life of Second Life.

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