© Julia Horbaschk
It was a great honour to host the first public screening of Julia Horbaschk’s film Death by Supernova, and if you weren’t able to attend, you can now view the film here. Three writers responded to the film and their responses are shown below.
“Death by SuperNova” is an emotionally charged body of work starting in the year 2000 and it’s ongoing. It consists of a series of self portraits taken in Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK – a reference to the way my father used to “escape” when he tried to find his identity by means of travel. Out of the blue in 1993, at age 52, my father took his own life.
I have never fully recovered from the shock.
But I have found a way to live on.
With this project I wanted to preserve the memory of a disappeared father and myself in a unique way. Taking the self portraits was a playful and cathartic process and a way of dealing with my feelings of loss.
Furthermore the work comments on the rising levels of anxieties in the 21st century, the concern over our long term futures and our universal fear of dying. It also raises questions about what role photography & the arts have (had) in this.
By sharing this work I hope to encourage people to talk more openly about loss & bereavement and continue a meaningful life after a crisis or cathastrophe. I want to encourage expression of grief via play and drama.
Project website: https://jh.persona.co
A Consideration of the Soul and the Stars: Supernova
By Anna Giangiordano
The day you died the stars rushed in to fill the void left by you. I count my days from that day. Beneath the pylon the hum of electrons, the tang of metal heavy in the air, my hair rises on my arms, my hearing vibrates, senses stretched, my sight obscured by you.
You are incidental as a death, a pause, a breath before the last breath of the universe, the one minute to midnight, the vanishing human in the dark night, incidental as a discarded cloth that wiped my tears many years ago. The moment has calcified, a still-birth, hard and unreasoned, and when I lie here I think of you lying here, seeing the stars for the last time, hearing the roll of thunder for the last time, and hearing the cry of your child for the last time.
You have opened. A dormant necessity within, suddenly exploded outwards, the bud burst of spring in a rose, the unfurl of a passion flower, weighty with the new. Even the old stars spill dark matter and sparkling chaos; a prelude to something new. You and they, a prelude.
Here, in the museum, I count the ways that we have painted the soul. The grey hair and rocking chair, amused eyes, bright milk in a jug, a tumble of hair and white blossom; the soul is a chameleon thing. I count every last soul in that museum thinking of you, and know that every brush stroke, dab of the palette knife and rag, spill of oil and egg, every crushed powdered earthen pigment and bright pearl caught and reflected in the white of an eye, each is a soul, torn apart and examined. Become a diffuse cloud, particle-small, as small as a thought or large as a thought; entangled with a soul. Unknowable, the dark matter within, made visible.
I press myself to the hidden places you visited when you were still alive. If I touch this wall this seat I touch what you touched and your atoms form part of it and me and the whole of space and the stars and the supernova that explode as my life exploded, as you exploded one day those years ago and became everywhere and nowhere, and here, where I rest and look up into the vibrating blue that fades to black and stars and probabilities.
The probability of your being here—your atoms in me, around me in the rain and mist and bricks and air—prompts me to speak but I falter. I might speak only with my fingers to hold your fingers, meaning enough there, as I grasp at clouds.
A loss you never had
By Mark Ellis Pawlak
How do you deal with a loss you never had? Cover it in clouds or cover it with sunshine? Pick the right time to talk, or box it up – ready for that shelf you promised to put up, but never did…
Only some clouds have silver linings, so let’s give them a miss. So we start with sunshine. Everyone loves sunshine.
Life is temporary, fleeting apparently. I don’t buy that. I will live forever. We will live forever.
So it doesn’t make sense that someone is here, then gone. Lost to their own life or lost to a bomb. My friend is gone. How can a man who smiled so much not be just around the corner, crap joke ready laughing at his own expense?
It’s ok if the salty tears fall, it’s fine when the grey clouds mass, cowardly hoping to outweigh the wind and smother the sun. See how the clouds crept back in there? Typical Stratus, jealous of Cirrus and here to dull your day.
It’s ok though, because we know bad thoughts pass and acts of the past aren’t curses.
The people we loved had their own pasts. Had their secrets. The saddest thing for them would be to think that they passed their clouds on to us.
If we met again they’d love us more. On a cloud, a fluffy one from which angels fall.
Caught beneath the Landslide
By Tim Andrews
There is a part of him in you,
There is a part of him in me;
One wanted to live,
The other to be free.
Tell them all about me he asked
But I could never understand
This man who loved her,
Until I had spoken to the hand.
He told you what he was going to do,
But he did not understand,
This man who loved you,
What lay in his hands.
If only they had waited
For each of us to grow;
If only they had waited
For each of us to know.
Each died by his own hand,
One held a cigarette, the other a gun,
She said lift your cap,
If you ever meet a nun.
And here we are the children,
I never smoked, you never fired a shot
Yet there is a part of him in us,
Which part? The part we knew not.
You have revisited his past;
Where he has stood, you stand.
I have written words;
Now we understand.
The tale of two fathers,
A tale of a girl and a boy,
A tale of friendship,
A tale of loss and joy.
There is a part of me in you,
There is a part of you in me.
Our fathers who art in heaven,
By Tim Andrews
Most of what I say is meaningless.
When I speak of me,
I speak of you,
I speak of all of us.
The day you sat in my car
And told me of the death of your father,
I felt privileged to be your friend.
In the past I saw a man kiss a woman goodnight;
I realised how little I knew.
I met a man in the street;
And I thought of your good fortune,
For that man to be your champion,
To have wooed you.
I thought of my good fortune,
Most of what I say is meaningless,
But not this.
Julia Horbaschk is a photographer and transnational project coordinator/ curator.
She has a keen interest in public space, memory and the archive, architecture and transnational identity.
Her work has been shown in galleries and Photo Festivals including Brighton Photo Fringe (UK), Ningbo Photo Festival (China), Goethe Institute (London UK), CNova Edinburgh (UK), Jerwood Space London (UK).
Published work includes: BBC World, Marie Claire, Location Location Location, Wavelength magazine, Hotshoe International, British Journal of Photography, The Observer, Financial Times Magazine.
Julia is a Disability Arts and Outsider Art advocate.