Yesterday, for the first time, I saw a photograph of the incredibly moving artwork Dark Elegy, dedicated to the victims of terrorism all around the world, created by Suse Lowenstein, the mother of a victim of the terrorist attack that brought down Pan AM flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerby in 1985. 270 people died.
The artwork consists of 74 larger-than-life sculptures depicting mothers and wives at the moment that they learned that their loved one had died. The women in their moments of anguish expressing shock, horror, sadness, despair, some anger, have all fallen to the ground. Some supporting others but all of them unashamed of their naked vulnerability.
And then, being me, I looked around and I thought, where are the men? Does the artist not know that the men are hurting too? Of course she does. But she knows how it feels to hurt as a woman, to grieve as a woman. This artwork is about women. How women express, remember and hold onto their sadness, not try to deny it.
And I imagined the men, perhaps in the field beyond the trees. What would that artwork look like?
I imagined that the men would be standing staunchly, their feet planted firmly apart, fists clenched, jaws locked, maybe down on one knee but never fallen to the ground.
Screaming through clenched teeth, “what the fuck? What the hell am I supposed to do with this? Anger, rage, fear, confusion?”
Defiant, maybe fearful, but never surrendering, never yielding and never falling to the ground. Keeping control of their thoughts and their bodies.
Men holding men up, stopping them from falling . This is what men do.
Maybe in Dark Elegy there is another message: ‘this is how we allow ourselves to grieve, we have the courage to let go of control, to fall to the ground and then find it within ourselves and each other to drag ourselves back to our feet, look the world in the eye and we carry on but we never forget.’