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When my father died recently I did several drawings of him in his coffin

Drawings of his face and head There is a story about Kokoschka teaching a life class The students were uninspired So he spoke to the model and instructed him to pretend to collapse When he had fallen over Kokoschka rushed over to him listened to his

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When my father died recently I did several drawings of him in his coffin

Presentation on theme: " When my father died recently I did several drawings of him in his coffin"— Presentation transcript:

When my father died recently, I did severaldrawings of him in his coffin. Drawings of hisface and head. There is a story about Kokoschkateaching a life class. The students wereinstructed him to pretend to collapse. When hehad fallen over, Kokoschka rushed over to him,shocked students that he was dead. Alittlethe pose. Now draw him,said Kokoschka, astheatrical experience, drew with more verve. Yetto draw the truly dead involves an ever-greatersense of urgency. What you are drawing willreoccur. Because the faculty of sight isyellow, dark, thick, thin) remain constant, andplace, one tends to forget that the visual isencounter. Appearances, at any given moment,are a construction emerging from the debris ofby. Paint it as it is.Beside my fathers coffin I summoned suchdirectlya manner, and then its application to what isurgency, to produce an urgentdrawing, instead Drawn To John Berger John Berger, writer andBerger on Drawingby the Occasional Press inCork on 2005. We are verypermission to reprint it, andJim Savage who are theOccasional Press. Berger 11/22/04 1:13 AM Page 41 How to Lose a Warof submitting to the urgency of what is. Here I was using my small skill to save athe intensity of seeing for the last time is, I believe, greater. Of all that I could seeobjectivity.As I drew his mouth, his brows, his eyelids, as their specific forms emergedwith lines from the whiteness of the paper, I felt the history and the experiencethan any drawing, his character and destiny had emerged. I was making a recordThey remained. I looked at them and found that they resembled my father. Or,more strictly, that they resembled him as he was when dead. Nobody could evermistake these drawings as ones of an old man sleeping. Why not? I ask myself.And the answer, I think, is in the way they are drawn. Nobody could draw asleeping man with such objectivity. About this quality there is finality. ObjectivityThere are several ways of describing the change. The content of the drawingincreased. The drawing, instead of marking the site of departure, began to markthe site of an arrival. The forms, drawn, filled out. The drawing became theimmediate locus of my memories of my father. The drawing was, no longerhad moved forward to become double-faced, and worked like a filter, fromimage which, unchanging, was becoming increasingly familiar. My father camenow, I scarcely see the face of a dead man; instead I see aspects of my fathers life.mask. It is still unmistakably that. The change which has taken place is subjective.(or paintings) as static images. What we often overlook it that their virtue, theirvery function, depended upon this. The need to discover the camera, and theinstantaneous or moving image, arose for many different reasons but it was not inorder to improve on the static image, or, if it was presented in those terms, it was Berger 11/22/04 1:13 AM Page 42 Drawn To That Momentcentury when social time became unilinear, vectorial and regularly exchangeable,the instant became the maximum which could be grasped or preserved. The plateinventions. Adrawing or painting presupposes another view of time.will disappear. The faculty of sight developed as an active response to continuallychanging contingencies. The more it developed, the more complex the view ofappearances.) Recognition is an essential part of this construction. Andin the ceaseless flux of disappearance. Thus, if appearances, at any given moment,are a construction emerging from the debris of all that has previously appeared, itSuch an idea is more than a personal dream; it has supplied the energy for a largepart of human culture. For example: the story triumphs over oblivion; music offersWhat is the nature of this challenge? Afossil also challengesdisappearancebut the challenge is meaningless. Aphotograph challenges disappearance but itschallenge is different from that of the fossil or the drawing.The fossil is the result of random chance. The photographed image has beenselected for preservation. The drawn image contains the experience of looking. Aphotographer is evidence of an encounter between event and photographer. Adrawing slowly questions an events appearance and in so doing reminds us thatappearances are always a construction with a history. (Our aspiration towardsobjectivity can only proceed from the admission of subjectivity.) We usephotographs by taking them with us, in our lives, our arguments, our memories; itis we who move them. Whereas a drawing or painting forces us to stop and enterits time. Aphotograph is static because it has stopped time. Adrawing or paintingown looking, more clearly. The imitative facility of a painting often acts as areferring to it. Great paintings are not disguised in this way. But even a third-rateHow does a drawing or painting encompass time? What does it hold in itsstillness? Adrawing is more than a momento a device for bringing backmemories of the time past. The spacethat my drawing offers for my fathersreturn into it is quite distinct from that offered by a letter from him, an objectowned by him or, as I have tried to explain, a photograph of him. And here it isincidental that I am looking at a drawing which I drew myself. An equivalentdrawing by anybody else would offer the same space. draw is to look, to examine the spectrum of appearance. Adrawing of a tree Berger 11/22/04 1:13 AM Page 43 How to Lose a Warshows, not a tree, but a tree being-looked-at. Whereas the sight of a tree isregistered almost instantaneously, the examination of the sight of a tree (a treelooking. Within the instant of the sight of a tree is established a life-experience.evidence of many glances which can be seen together. On the one hand there is nothey constitute a totality rather than a fragment. The static image of a drawing ormetaphor of time as a flow, a river, then the act of drawing, by driving upstream,achieves the stationary.ermeers view of Delft across the canal explains this as no theoreticalexplanation can ever. The painted moment has remained (almost) unchanged forthree centuries. The reflections in the water have not moved. Yet this paintedrarely in life. We experience everything we see in the painting as momentary. At the same time the experience is repeatable the next day or in tensquare millimetre of Vermeers looking, with the density per square millimetre ofEvery day more of my fathers life returns to the drawing in front of me.Drawn To That MomentThe White Bird Berger 11/22/04 1:13 AM Page 44