Gioia Fonda (Artist) is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in two-dimensional m

gioia fonda

@gioia_fonda

Ouroboros

Whether personal, local, national, or global,

there has certainly been no shortage of things to fret over lately

 

It’s been a rough few years, 

for me at least, 

and I’d imagine for you as well

 

Awhirl with worry, frustration, outrage and sorrow,

Stuck, stuck, stuck,

Stuck at home, 

stuck to my desk, 

stuck with myself and my own hamster wheel of a brain,

even thrice stuck with a needle full of warp speed, science and optimism


 

Our house, became a vacuum sealed spaceship

to nowhere, 

but also, to here and now,

various electronic screens became our windows

for witnessing

my world, 

our world,

turned upside down 

and inside out, 

every day a backwards day

 

Teaching from home 

to black rectangles,

so busy, yet so bored, 

overworked, but woefully ineffectual, even on the good days,

overwhelmed and underwhelmed, all at once, 

a mean, sort of zero-sum game

 

Mildly horrified,

at bearing daily and incremental witness

to my own aging process

over seemingly endless zooms, 

(I’ve never looked at myself so much)

the fiery passion for my vocation very nearly squelched,

my workaholic tendencies laid bare, 

real life relationships, health and vitality compromised,

it felt as if the meager juice rendered each day

was rarely worth all that squeeze

 

So much, so much, so much,

building, adapting, inventing,

learning, unlearning, relearning

my mind ached with growth,

a whole new kind of headache

the constant uncertainty and discomfort 

became as familiar as my couch

or a favorite sweatshirt

  

Months and months of repetition,

yet with hardly any discernible rhythm

two seemingly seasonless years

spent almost entirely online,

remarkably unremarkable 

day-to-day

minute-by-minute

click-by-click

and then swoosh, just gone, 

two

years

 

And then there was the all the reckoning,

my reckoning, our reckoning, our re-rereckoning,

a recognizing of our patterns,

a realigning of values,

a recounting of votes,

a retelling of history,

a reimagining of our future,

a reassessment of our needs,

a recalibrating of our actions,

a reevaluating of our roles,

the remembering of our forgetting

and then a re-remembering,

followed by a recommitting to the work

Re, re, re, a whole lot of re

 

Unprecedented, my ass,

I kept hearing that we haven’t been here before

but haven’t We?

It all seemed recycled

news cycles and life cycles,

a constant merry-go-round,

or maybe, 

these days, 

more of an unmerry-go-round

 

A circle, 

a clock, 

a coin toss,

a mobius strip,

a boomerang,

a coming around and going around,

an ouroboros, 

this was/is my/our ouroboros

 

Winter, spring, summer, fall

blizzards, floods, droughts, fires, so many fires

bullies, demagogues, strongman, authoritarians

Betsy, Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Harvey, Ike, Sandy, Sally…

University of Texas, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas, Pulse…

Rodney, Sandra, Philando, Stephon, Elijah, George…

Bubonic, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Spanish Flu, Polio, H1N1, Ebola, Zika, Covid…

 

A cataclysmic event, 

followed by a hashtag, 

perhaps followed by some protests or maybe some urgent fundraisers,

followed by so many panels, round tables and think pieces, 

until the next outrageous thing,

always another thing,

it’s all on a loop, 

new, new, new, 

and yet oddly familiar

 

This isn’t to say 

that it isn’t important 

to get involved

to answer the call

to give time and resources

towards solving the problems,

finding the solutions,

organizing and activating the people,

but rather to acknowledge

that we’ve been here before

we know this place

we know what to do

we can take stock,

we can be kind and strong,

we can extend grace and set goals,

we can pace ourselves,

we can give ourselves permission,

to be here, fully, now, 

after all,

even as we pause,

the rock will go right on rotating

and besides which,

there really is no other place to go

 

Fear and grave concern,

morphed into paranoia,

eventually receding into caution, but still 

we were riddled with doubt,

mixed message combined with second guesses,

critical thinking got tangled up in political posturing,  

the adrenalin wore off, but the pandemic wore on

 

I know

that you know

most of this

because

in one form,

or another,

it happened to you as well



 

Other, more private, preoccupations

might have bubbled up, 

boiled over, 

demanded my attention,

soul-searching

may have turned to 

navel-gazing for a minute 

here or there

but I won’t bore you 

with the details

of my Midlife Unraveling

I might, however 

refer you to an essay with the same title

 

It wasn’t all bad

there were plenty of 

bright moments

quiet inner journeys

tiny triumphs

hundreds of walks were taken

new ideas and skills were 

acquired, absorbed, and exchanged

there were plenty of good homecooked meals

and heaps of great television

but the balance was off

way off

 

So, I painted it all out,

in a fury of catharsis and pent-up energy,

in an attempt to slough off the last few years

I offer this snake of a painting, 

an abstract palimpsest of 

both turmoil and joy,

grief and gratitude,

a thing made, restlessly resting among a community sorely missed

in a building at the end of its run, yet making way for something else,

in a moment in time, that surely feels fresher, newer and more hopeful

than the moments piled up right behind it

a symbol of both death and birth hovers right here,

bouncing off the walls,

careening down the hallway,

chasing after 

itself

myself

ourselves

 

Gioia Fonda 

March 2022