For Only The Lonely
Gallery Sequel Tokyo
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
In an age when we are so interconnected (globally, electronically), the question still begs to be asked: Why am I (we) so alone?
The title for this exhibition comes from Frank Sinatra’s seminal album on heartbreak—one of my many companions in the studio. While for many years I have sought ways of approaching the subject of loneliness, I found that I was deeply moved by the recent news that Gus, the Lonely Polar Bear had died.
Gus was a lonely, neurotic bear who lived for many years in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Male Polar Bears are solitary animals, they roam the arctic for months at a time—hunting, swimming, doing the things that Polar Bears do. In the zoo, Gus was alone, but there were no seals to hunt, no miles of snow-covered peaks to walk, no walruses to fight off. Nothing to do but watch the constant flow of people who stare at and wave into his habitat. And swim. Gus would swim back and forth incessantly, until the zookeepers thought there might be something wrong: they surmised that Gus was bored, and lonely.
Thinking about Gus’ life lead me to thoughts about being alone in general—about my own frustrations when working in isolation, the happy solitude of being immersed in a project, and the many stories of melancholy my friends have told me over time.
There are different kinds of loneliness: the solo bear who develops a neurotic habit of swimming ceaselessly back and forth in his cage, a little girl lost in the middle of nowhere, the last kid to be picked up from school…again. These are the little worlds that make up this collection of solitudes.
Emily Dickenson’s famous poem introduced the idea of word play into the lonely scenes. Taking loneliness literally, the text in some drawings visually represents the silent “elephant in the room,” a key to an emotion that many people feel each day.
In a few instances, I try to let two lonely characters meet each other, so that they are not totally bereft. Otherwise, it would all be too much to bear.