What a 1980’s Tension Memory Looks Like

“That is just the impatient me waiting for my own teeth to fall out as I doubt I will ever find the bouffant that defines me”.

I stood sifting through the remnants of somebody else’s life, the precipice correlated somewhere between the footnote of commerce and an inability to understand the language proliferating from the wet mouths around me. There was a twitching in my right eye. It was still a dew-filled dawn and the smell of taxidermied goat heads, Hungarian sausage, and cheap coffee filled the air along with the scuttling of anticipated feet. My own appendages were tired and seemed to force a distance between their traction and my eyes, which sough to consume objects and images at their base visual surfaces.

 

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

”I could see they were weathered, scratched, and something like a blister had formed on the surface of some, perhaps some residue of something less tragic”.

The flea market is always a strange affair. I have been collecting for nearly two decades and the atmosphere at these events never ceases to draw annoyance and awe from me in equal amounts. The inability to pass an octogenarian with terrible breath, whose teeth had fallen out and who is there to remember and not to buy strikes a tenuous nerve in the early hours. The bouffant courting woman in her red coat, same age, but with drawn cheeks and vivid lipstick refuses to move quickly from my path. They all stand as obstacles in my way when sourcing images for my collection. That is just the impatient me waiting for my own teeth to fall out as I doubt I will ever find the bouffant that defines me.

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

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@ Brad Feuerhelm

“They were perfect, the layers of grime and the harsh shift of natural color to somewhere soft of blue was a indicator for me of the frailty in which political regime, age, otherness, and memory co-align to degrade into a fantastic hypothesis of life on the other side from what I think I remember of it”.

These relics, these objects sometimes carry me to a place where it was impossible for me to exist. I am technically situated in central Europe, but for all intents and purposes, the west seems to see Slovakia as Eastern Europe, despite its approximation the very center of European geography. I stumbled across a box of slides or dia-positives as they seem to be called everywhere in central Europe. I could see they were weathered, scratched, and something like a blister had formed on the surface of some, perhaps some residue of something less tragic. The slides featured some sort of non-linear educational story about gas masks and what I imagined to be similar to a high school driving film about the do’s and don’t of nuclear holocaust. They were perfect, the layers of grime and the harsh shift of natural color to somewhere soft of blue was a indicator for me of the frailty in which political regime, age, otherness, and memory co-align to degrade into a fantastic hypothesis of life on the other side from what I think I remember of it. “Red Dawn, “Iron Eagle”- Shepp and Young Doug Masters were screaming at me from the corner of my Wisconsin-bred HBO mind saying something about wolverines and communist air strikes. Yet, the memory and the tableaux presented within had disintegrated into the layer of scum and dirt towards a micro-biological terror-fiction that sough to consume these false memories and I was reminded that the edges of the slides were the ultimate metaphor for the act of memory, especially in photographic terms….They had collected dirt, dust, and the viscosity that layers the top of image were in way had far better explained any passing notion of understanding that I think I might have gleaned between cable television and the pre-perestroika salad days.

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(All rights reserved. Text and images @ Brad Feuerhelm.)

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