Forgetting and Remembering

Detail of “Lament VI” by Francesca Lalanne, Engraved Oxidized steel, wood, granite, 24" x 24"

Sometimes, when I take in the enormity of the times we’re living, I want them to end. I wish they would evaporate already so that the rebirth can begin to take shape. When I am in my ego, focusing on my distress surrounding hatred of Black people, the shocking number of covid-related deaths, and active neglect of our rudderless leadership, I want to run away to a better place.

At the end of my workdays, if I plop down in front of the tube, I want to forget the news and the drama and the stress. I want to find a good comedy! Or something uplifting. A good mystery novel so I can get out of my head. But isn’t looking away the reason we’re here now? Haven’t we, as a people, been forgetting to remember that systemic racism affects us all? That police brutality against Blacks is in keeping with the violence in this nation’s DNA. The numbers for 2017 and 2018 tell the tale: gun violence breeds nearly 40,000 deaths annually.

According to Stanford University anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann, who studied schizophrenics in the United States, Ghana, and India, the Americans she spoke to said the voices they heard were full of violence; voices that told them they were worthless and should die. Meanwhile, in Ghana, Africans said they heard the voice of God; in India, people heard annoying relatives telling them to do chores. We need to break the cycle of stuffing inconvenient truths deep into our drawers and closets, and then being horrified when they resurface. Forgetting doesn’t solve anything, it perpetuates it.

I was contemplating these issues while installing the striking paintings and hanging sculptures of Francesca Lalanne, a Haitian-American artist, whose one-woman exhibition we’re hosting at our gallery on September 26th. Her series titled Lamentations are carved sheets of oxidized steel with granite elements that reflect the internal and universal mourning taking place at this time; the load of loss and grief that weighs upon us all in 2020. In these pieces, sorrow gives way to vital perseverance.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing for renewal, for replacing our despair with hope. That desire is crucial to our positive forward motion. But setting the Sturm and Drang behind us without remembering, honoring, and paying homage to those who died, and to so many mothers, sisters, brothers, and friends, whose loved ones disappeared would be a tragedy. We must not endeavor to forget! A beautiful, deeply inspired work of art can help us transcend despair and hope, connecting us with our humanity. These stunning works by Francesca Lalanne transport us to a place of solidarity with those who have gone, and they help us to remember.

I hope you’ll make it a point to join us at 5PM on September 26 @galerielakaye on IG and FB to view this powerful art exhibition titled Francesca Lalanne: In This Time. And for those of you living in Los Angeles, please contact us to make an appointment for a gallery visit.

Carine is the author of six fiction and nonfiction books, and a longtime contributor to Huffpost, writing on issues of lifestyle, the arts, politics, and more.