Tsouhtres

The Dutch summer closed as a cheeky promise, the same as every year. We are left with a humid 20 degrees and a heavy cloud on our heads, a reminder that, whatever changes happen to the environment, the North cannot help it but stay north. Having lived enough adult years at the two extremes of the European continent, always with one foot in the sea, I can confirm that there are very few things in common between the North and the South. The more I live in the North the more I understand the everlasting contradiction of the Southern people to admire the tidiness and organization of the Northerns while in the same time defending the unreasonable behavior of a loose citizen with a self imagined (individual) anarchy which has no point whatsoever and certainly no result (apart from the discomfort of the citizen him/herself, since nothing really works). One of the very few common things though is the collection of jelly fishes at the edge of the sea. This is a memory that I can consolidate without fear of being wrong regarding the place, or regarding images of lost beauty/identity. These extremely elegant, ‘out of this world’ creatures, become a smudge of jelly when brought ashore, provoking revulsion and horror. ‘Out of our world’ creatures, once elegant or not, become pitiful or upsetting ‘tsouhtres’ when thrown ashore to ‘our’ world. This is the destiny of anyone with lost identity. Jelly fishes on shore are dead; humans thrown ashore are alive, when lucky. Being an immigrant, especially a forced one, carries an unthinkable loss of identity mostly where the individual identity is inseparable from that of the group, be it language or culture in a general sense. We can name them anything (they won’t understand), we can comment on them and photograph them and depict them as we wish; most often with the pretext of showing their situation for their own good (which is…?). Seeing refugees in big prints on museum walls or exhibition halls brings me nausea, mainly because of their helplessness to protect their own image. Under such thoughts, the Western world of policies and people’s rights cracks letting through the smell of hypocrisy. I just wonder since when and for whose interest the artists accepted to go along with the lowest form of communications, namely journalism with the ethics of paparazzi. Maybe the artists have also lost a big deal of their identity, being voluntarily adopted by whoever promises them one. Anyway, since my student years I have seen big mouth aspirant artists become stranded jelly fishes in front of gallerists and such. What one has to sacrifice to remain a living tsouhtra is another story.

tsouhtres= Greek word for stinging jellyfishes

Isabelle Eberhardt in the fload on the Atlas mountains, 2010

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