They began with singing, in black jumpsuits. Something I read recently talked about artists switching between petty dictators and humble workers—well, these were definitely workers. They had utility belts and head lamps.
They turned on their lights and the work began. The first time you see the little snowsuit, he’s being put back together. No one knows him. There is no physical record of who he might have been. Ballerinas danced; they turned into a swan that was shot down.
The lights occasionally shine in our eyes. There are newspapers with the little snowsuit on the front page as the hunted leader of the revolutionaries. Sort of like the Unibomber.
The snowsuit walked. Strange creatures/people menaced him, but he kept walking. He jumped over obstacles in his path. He got a phone call from a stranger saying they would kill him. The snowsuit ran. The little snowsuit is not a villain. The little snowsuit is that tender little bit inside of you. He keeps disappearing and transforming because they keep killing him.
I saw Room 101, and the Terror, and Belarus, and Iraq, and the Goneaway World, and …well, there was too much. When I break it down, I can see the parallels, but while watching it, I was distracted by revolutionaries, wars, prostitutes, the Church. Sure, revolutions can go bad. Sure, governments are corrupt. Sure, war goes on because neither side will back down. Sure. They’re not the kinds of topics you get to feel indifferent about, but I felt like I had heard it before… maybe they had something different to say, something I hadn’t heard, but I never quite got there. Maybe you did.
What I did get was smaller and quieter. We all have faces. Our faces stand out and it seems like we cannot help being identified (I think of science fiction movies about totalitarian governments with facial recognition software… forget that, my computer knows who I am and who I am related to by looking at our faces in my vacation photos.) We are under surveillance all the time. But, I guess your face is meaningless if no one knows it, if it’s not connected to anyone or anything else.
(When you can’t put a name to a face, does it mean you just don’t care enough about that person?)
Without a face, you can be drowned in a torture chamber, or made to sign documents. You can have your head pounded into the floor. You can be locked in a room. You can be told to stand still when your body cannot stand. You can be hanged. You can be hounded. You can be put on the cover of a newspaper. You can die in a sword fight with a shark. You can be torn apart by your own lack of a face (or you can become a god). You can be born in a place with no god, only garbage.
Well, if there’s anywhere an audience is going to sympathize with a beleaguered snowsuit, it’s in Minneapolis in January. As I steered my bike to the street, I felt a little strange, more aware of me, my bike, my puffy down parka as concrete objects redefined with each moment. I guess I felt like a puppet. Maybe a puppet that does not know it is being puppetted. By what strange force do I move through the world?
As I pulled up at the stoplight, I saw some friends and waved. They waved back cautiously at me, a snowsuit with no face, shining a headlight in their eyes. I turned off my light, pulled down my mask and shouted a greeting. They waved back happily. I have a face! Lucky me.
(From me, Tara King, one-third of Mad King Thomas. Hi.)