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Lamentation (2002)
Robin Bernat

Lamentation (2002)

September 16, 2001 I write this statement about lamentation before its completion as, no matter what the final piece, I think my ideas will be unchanged. It is a piece a long time in the making and big gaps of time exist between the filming of sequences. I point this out only because I think it might be relevant to the content. Entirely, this work is about the loss of my beloved, Daniel Zalik, who was killed in a camping accident in Argentina almost two years ago. Another work, American Pastoral, has come and gone without some putting to rest of my grief. That work was, perhaps, a good start of what seems like a long journey of understanding something about faith and grace. Thanks to participants Tom Williams, Charles Reeve and David Butler. Having become separated from his family, Daniel had climbed to the top of a promontory for a better view of the landscape, slipped and fell on rocks knocking him unconscious, plummeting into a ravine and washed downstream – his body found several days later. For months and months, I replayed this scenario over in my head. I couldn’t reconcile in my mind how the worst possible event could have happened to Daniel and how alone he was. The image of his body, lifeless and unattended for days, his vulnerability, his mortality, how quickly he was here and then not here: I was tormented. Finally, I went to Rome for an artist residency and on the second day, I visited the Borghese Museum. In the last gallery, I turned around to see Raphael’s Deposition. (I include it here.) Being in Rome, of course, these images are in every church, in every little chapel, in every street altar: there was no getting away from this picture. I don’t know what else to say that this painting doesn’t say all by itself and how it addresses my personal grief and reminds me of the universal nature of sorrow and suffering and what can be comforting about that. (that is what these paintings were intended to do.) Daniel, who was an orthodox Jew, I’m sure, might not much appreciate these visual or metaphoric comparisons of him to Jesus but, luckily, he was also forgiving and generous.
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