The Disappeared: Life’s Unspeakable Transience

Audio: Phillip Glass/Mishima

The Disappeared: Metaphor and Mortality

Oscar Muñoz: Proyecto para un Monumento (Project for a Memorial)

(Click Image for Video)

Oscar Muñoz’s video documents the artist painting faces with water on stone. At first one is amazed by the expertise of the artist, working only with water that is far more difficult to control than paint. Soon, however, the viewer is struck by the hopelessness of the undertaking. As soon as the face is completed, it begins to fade away. The contrast here between the art and the futility becomes Muñoz’s metaphor for the unutterable transcience of life.

His metaphor, however, transmits a tone of despondent nihilism. It fails to consider the possibility and potential of a perspective that is associated with a tolerance of an ambivalent relation to death, one that includes both existential dread and foreseeable mourning, as well as self-affirmation. Thus, it may well be that the ultimate wisdom regarding fear of death lies within an ability to maintain in one’s awareness both sides of the imposing paradox that is raised by the prospect of death, namely that death renders life both meaningful and meaningless, priceless and valueless at the same time.

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