Opening on October 25th, 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is How Isolde Got Lost, by Arete of Cyrene (AretevanCyrene). It is a complex piece, a story in 14 part;, a story in images dealing with the complex subject of love, loss and healing.
Narrative in art is not unusual; I’ve often referenced it when writing about exhibitions in these pages. But with this particular exhibition, the story is presented through the chronological order in which the pieces are presented, the start indicated by the sign The Story Begins Here, located on one of the inside walls of the gallery space, then progressing from there in a clockwise direction.
As Arete states in her liner notes, mourning is a deeply personal experience, influenced by a number of factors: our closeness to the lost one; their place within our circle of family and friends and how they react to the loss; religious and social factors, and so on. In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what she saw as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A sixth was later added, in the form of shock, preceding the other five. But as Arete also notes from her own experience the stages of loss can be more complex and can extend beyond just six stages.
In particular, the images here have not only been specifically created for the exhibition, they chart Arete’s on experience with loss (one of which also touches on Dido’s story, notably in She Found a New Home….). Nevertheless, the story here in one that is going to resonate with anyone who has suffered loss and grief. Through them, we travel not only through the six acknowledged stages of grief, but also through the situations and actions that can both move us through them – or return us to one of them.
In this, Arete presents a simple, but forgotten fact of mourning: by labelling loss in terms of 6 “stages”, we tend to look at them as a linear progression: a series of steps from shock to acceptance by way of the other stages, all neatly in order. But the reality is, beyond shock, while we may well initially travel through the remaining stages in the order they are offered, we might also travel back to different stages of grieving. This can be as a result of a number of factors; perhaps as a result of finally packing possessions away, or clearing a closet of clothes that will no longer be worn, or simply witnessing something unexpected through the course of everyday life.
The healing process can also be found within the images, the return to “everyday” life; the support of family and friends; the taking up of new activities and filling the void as best we can. Given the personal nature of the images, and the nature of loss, singling out individual pieces in the series isn’t easy. However, it is the smaller, personal aspects of the story – such as Boxes – or the need to talk to the one now gone (which can be a vital part of the healing process: acknowledging that while a loved one might be physically gone, we can still keep them with us through memory as an integral part of us), that particularly struck a chord with me.
To understand death, she so often talked with him to find spiritual acceptance.
Her words send to address unknown:
“Love listen, I must go on…but when I laugh, I feel guilty. When I forget you in a moment, I feel guilty. Please, try to understand, I love you and miss you so much but I have to let go of that guilt. Love listen, walk with me each day and we make that day together. Sleep with me each dark hour and share my dreams till we walk on the same soil.”
– Arete of Cyrene, How Isolde Got Lost
There is more here as well; the images are not only unique to this story and exhibition, they are wonderfully constructed in 3D. To see the intricate layering of this, I recommend enabling Advanced Lighting Model and setting graphics to at least High. Also, do make note that the story can also be followed through a website created by Arete, and accessed by clicking the first image in the series for a link.
An exhibition of enormous depth and message, How Isolde Got Lost is a must see. And please note that while individual image are available for sale, all proceeds will go to The Catboat in Amsterdam, the only animal sanctuary that literally floats, sited on a canal. A tip jar for the charity is also available in the gallery.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)