I Am

I Am
Single-channel high-definition digital video
2:49 minutes (looped), 16:9, colour, silent
Edition of 5 +1 AP

A few things recently happened that were the culmination of a lifetime of pain. To begin to understand, accept, and deal with everything—to move on with my life—I wrote a timeline of my entire existence. It contained my deepest Core (my soul, my Being, my consciousness, my unconsciousness, my me-ness). It was my deepest self, my deepest Me, full of my nethermost fears, anxieties, doubts, and insecurities. It was my soul laid bare. A new beginning. My childhood and adolescent years had long-lasting consequences on my perception of self. Yet, I never spoke about my childhood, not even with the people closest to me. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Instead, I expressed myself through art (as cliché as this sentence sounds). My art—chronicling billionaires, politicians, the porn industry, the invisible power structures behind photography etc.—is me detesting people who believe they have power. People who abuse other people for their own self-gratification. Beings who crave power and crush other beings to feel big. People who demand respect but do nothing to earn the respect they command. Men who feel the urge to make women and children feel vulnerable and small. This was my childhood. Yet, instead of facing it, I ran, I hid, I felt alone, frightened, rejected, and unloved. This project is an attempt to be me. It is me refusing to hide. It is a self-reflective metaphysical question that I couldn’t answer until recently—what does it feel like ‘to exist’? It is an attempt to yell at the top of my fucking lungs that I exist—that ‘I am’. Nonetheless, I never want to be defined by my perceived weakness—my abuse, my post-traumatic stress, my angst, and my depression. My childhood made me the person I am today, so I wouldn’t change the past, even if I could. I exist.

* The video is comprised of several hundred ‘I am’ statements sampled from BBC World News articles.

My timeline (for personal reasons, this is a scaled and unreadable jpeg):

I was never allowed to Be (in the philosophical sense of ‘Being’, or ‘being-in-the-world’). I was never allowed to be a precious and innocent child—to carefully explore and understand life. Life was thrown in my face. The hard-brutal truth of life—the loneliness and the isolation. I was never allowed to be a human. I was a product of violence. I was born into a world of pure violence and pure hatred. I don’t actually know how I survived my childhood. I’m lucky to be alive today, which is odd because I tried to end my life when I was in primary school. I never felt loved. I have never experienced love and I have never had a home. Until this year (2020), I didn’t believe in things like unconditional love or marriage. I would look at everybody else, all the blissful people, and I never understood their happiness. I thought everyone was thoughtless—too naive to see the brutality of life. Too naive in their simple and content lives. I was alone. I felt alone. I was totally alone. Disconnected from the world. I was the loneliest boy in the Universe. I now know why I had these feelings. They were conditioned into me. From the very start of my life, I was treated like nothingness. I was rejected. I was never loved. I was choked. I was abused. I was hit. I was never given a home. I was never given safety or security. I was (deliberately) given the opposite of these necessities. I was treated like an animal. I lived my entire life in my head—in a safe cave in my head—protected and disconnected from the world around me. I was isolated, sad, and lonely. But I thought this was life. I thought this was ‘normal’.