Human - first and foremost / 22 January 2014
Late last year I was commissioned to produce a visual piece based on my poem 'Human'. I had no idea what the end result would be. I was told to do what I wanted.
I started by re-reading the poem with the commission in mind. The commissioner had said how he liked the way my work contains layers, and how the phrase 'human first and foremost' resonated.
I was struck by how well another phrase from the poem, 'such a fuck off fabulous host' suited the commissioner. He likes good food and drink, both as a host and out dining. The Biblical meaning of 'host' combined with the profanity of 'fuck off', appealed to me.
I have part of my poem 'Diagnosed' written on a large mirror in dripping blood: 'If I believe in fate I can't cheat it' and for a while I thought about putting 'Human' on top of that. I have another canvas 6 foot wide, 2 foot high, which hangs above my fireplace, it is a constant 'work in progress', and I considered using that. I cut out empty medication boxes and sprayed through them. I tried this onto a roller blind too.
Eventually I hit upon using a piece which was dark and gloomy, called 'I just stopped taking my medication', which I had made specifically to fill an ornate frame I'd bought at auction. It was hanging above the stairs. I took it down. I turned it 180 degrees and re-made it. It slowly developed. I added collage. Tintoretto's 'Adam & Eve' got painted over. So did lots of other stuff. It slowly grew. It went white. It went orange, yellow, and purple. I used household paints,and then acrylics. Finally I got to red and green. I wanted it to have vitality. I wanted it to have the human touch. Mistakes. Vs. Dust.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, H.I.V.
Human first and foremost,
A maker of mistakes.
The mistake I made,
Was to fall in love.
Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
I is Immunodeficient -
I catch more germs than most,
Of course I prefer to think germs think me
Such a fuck-off, fabulous host!
V is for Virus,
It contains both I and Us.
We’re all human first and foremost,
And in the end, all dust.
Keywords: disability art,discrimination,hiv,poetry,visual arts