In the last period I´ve been wondering about the presence, also about the possibility of been absent even though you are present and the other way around. In the exhibition “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America” that is currently in the American Folk Art Museum, I found a visual answer to those questions.
The exhibition is about portraits of dead people, and death is a good symbol to arise this question about the presence. I set my attention in the gazes of the portraits, and I was interesting that in most of the cases the dead had intense and present looks, as if there were very connected with life and conscious. Even though lots of them were kids their gazes were not innocent at all, they seemed plenty of knowledge. In the other hand, some alive people looked so absent, so gone.
Of course death has that effect on people and families, sometimes it is so devastating that alive ones start living in absence, their minds in other places, traveling in questions and memories. But this effect that is so well represented in this portraits happen in daily life even when there is not any dead one. The presence is not just where our bodies are, it is also where minds are, both, together in places. The human capability to split bodies and minds create great bridges where death and life can talk, and talk, and talk. Alive can be somehow dead or absent and dead ones very alive.