As I was poking around on Sunday trying to find something to paint I stumbled onto a drawer filled with cellophane wrapped candies. They were pieces that had been given to me and that I had picked up from exhibitions of Felix Gonzales Torres, one of my all time favorite artists.
Felix was diagnosed with HIV in the early nineties and both he and his partner died from complications related to the virus. His artworks are poignant and simple and beautiful. They evoke the temporal nature of life, and the tragic loss associated with being gay in the 80s, and 90s when so many lives were lost due to fear and inaction surrounding HIV.
His candy pieces are simple: a pile of candies weighing as much as one of his friends is placed in a gallery. Visitors are allowed to take pieces for themselves, resulting in a steady decrease of the original weight until there is nothing left. It is a powerful metaphor that I contemplated as I worked. Was my piece the one that tipped the scales? Did it matter? Now several years old, the original artwork was certainly gone – all that remains is a memory.