A funny thing happened on the way to work. Though I wasn’t technically going to work per se, just playing around with some images. The motive is almost banal in its execution. Who am I kidding, it’s completely banal. A simple matter of deciding to create a new blog, in case the other goes bust, and deciding to get a head start so I can still ask an expert or two some questions before I may or may not be able to renew it. The thing is, I use pictures, because that’s who I am, but also because a blank page by now is just really weird.
I set to work and started playing around. Before you ask me about my approach, I don’t really have one. Or rather, the visual process is so natural, I don’t even think about it consciously. Same way I never thought about seeing words, letters, numbers, and names in color, visualizing everything I read or hear in my mind, until I was in my late teens or early twenties. My general approach is, see what happens, but I do have some ideas in mind.
Long story short, I was just adding colors and patterns, when I realized it reminded me of David Harouni’s earlier work. Back in another life (so about five years ago), I was obsessed with antebellum New Orleans. I’ve been obsessed with Persia since I found out Tami Stronach from the Neverending Story was born there, but even before that my ears would always perk up when someone mentioned Tehran, the Shah, or anything about Persia really. My violin teacher was from Persia, and I started working with him when I was around nine.
So to find Persia cropping up again when I moved on to my next obsession, came as no surprise. Armenia was always around as well, and I got into that after researching the name Derenian in my favorite book, Escape to Witch Mountain. I loved digging deep, even as a little kid. Ditto a whole lot of other places and names.
What really got to me though was that I’d long since forgotten about David Harouni, in the sense that I wasn’t trying to emulate his style. I wasn’t even thinking about New Orleans. And maybe I’m the only one who sees even a remote trace of a similarity. But that’s just the thing with cultures living inside you. You forget about them, same way I’d frequently forget that Hungarian, not French, was my father’s first language. Until he started speaking it with his friends, and I’d be surprised (and miffed that I couldn’t understand).
I’m, of course, very aware of my genetic makeup, but it’s not always at the forefront of my thoughts. I don’t go out of the house thinking, how can I be particularly French / Hungarian / American today. It just happens, when I’m arguing a point about free speech, when I stir a friend towards a coffee shop so we can have a better conversation. But also when I lean in to give my closest friend a hug, forgetting that we’re in Hungary, and said friend kisses me on the cheek.
I don’t want to highlight those similarities and differences with every post, but at the same time I know they are there. Half of the fun lies in stumbling over them while writing or reading things back. I should ask my friends about that though, what makes me (non-)French/Hungarian/American and / or all or none of the above.