skeletal ruminations / is it weird that i’m in love with a chalk drawing?

I’m obsessed with this little guy. I found him a few months ago on a blackboard in a room that I’d been in many times before and yet, this time, the space appeared transfigured; as if his presence allowed to room to be charged with an electricity that can only be experienced when reality stop being real and becomes something more powerful. I was captivated by his spindly right side and slightly more muscular left, his extreme bow-leggedness, his slowly disintegrating body. I don’t believe in profound experiences of art but, let me tell you, seeing him, seeing my little skeletal friend, was the closest I’ve ever come to being moved in a religious way by any piece of art, chalk on blackboard or otherwise. I just love him. I think he’s amazing. Even now, when I’m not actually looking at the pictures themselves and am simply thinking of him, the idea of him, I feel myself becoming emotional. I just love him so much.

What was I supposed to write about? I can’t even remember anymore. Something academic and insanely intelligent I suppose, but my little skeletal friend has taken up all of the space in my head. He is surely – wait. This is a waste of time, right? I need to actually say something worthwhile about this experience in order to make it seem like I didn’t choose this subject matter just because I love the skeleton.

Okay, so let’s think about this. Why was I so moved by him? What was it about this anonymous scribble that moved me to such an extent? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I think its because he conveys such an intense sense of absence. He is there, yes, and I can see him, but the way that he exists is closer to the not-quite-being-there of life than the Being-There with a capital bee tee that can only be experienced in art. This is my problem with most artistic experience, to be honest; that it does not, and cannot, represent lived experience. Because a piece of art is contained, complete, and has (she says warily) meaning, it exists as an opposite to life which, without exception, is multiple, unfinished, and meaningless. So, when you engage in a conversation with a piece of art, you really engage in a conversation with the reality that the art contains – the reality that you want to steal for yourself.

So that’s fine, right? I mean, I guess it is, but if we want to say that art can be real or related to our own lives, then we kind of have to change our approach to both making and consuming art. If we want art to exist within our world instead of above it, then we’ve got to do something different. I guess that’s why I like the skeleton so much. Yes, he is piece of art, in that somebody had to draw him, but he doesn’t feel as contained as he should be. He is physically fading away, in that his left side has begun to disintegrate, and because his is drawn in chalk, which cannot be permanent, which allows him a sort of absence that most art cannot convey. In fact, after taking this picture, I rubbed him out. I wiped him from existence. It was sad, and hard to say goodbye, but as he entered into the skeletal afterlife, and all traces of him were removed from my vision, his importance was cemented. He represents to me a different kind of art; one that is closer to lived experience, and, in this, closer to what I want art to be.

goodbye skeleton

Ashes to Ashes, Chalk to Chalk. Loving father, husband, and skeleton. He is survived by his admirer Ani Hurford, who says that her sadness will never end.

Also, I want to say to whoever drew this skeleton in D/L/037 on Friday 25th of January: I love your creation and, since you left him to be destroyed, am claiming all creative copyright over his image. Sorry about that.



Ani Hurford

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