Portrait of Lil Snupe
24"x36" acrylics on canvas.
This was the last painting I completed almost immediately prior to my December elbow surgery (which was MOSTLY successful, I think, still have some time yet to go). It was requested as a gift by a good friend of mine -- in fact, since we met a few years ago, he's been incredibly supportive of what I do! I appreciate him to no end.
Even on requested work, I tend to dwell a lot on the meaning of what I do. When this piece was requested, I'd just finished reading the book "24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep" by Jonathan Crary. It's one of those books that changed my life when I read it, and it's so deeply ingrained in my worldview now that I don't know how I would begin to summarize it without reading the whole thing again.
(most of the rest of this journal is admittedly a little "academic"-sounding, which is because I waited so long to write about this piece)
That being said, the main point I mentally toiled over during this time was the idea that sleep is one of the last natural barriers to capitalism. Whereas time and work can be bought or sold, sleep and what goes on in our state of slumber are relatively untouchable. Sleep is virtually inefficient to a capitalist system - it is the time when we cease to produce because we cease to consciously take part in the system as a whole. So if one understands this, then one can also see how we're being deceived when we desire some forms of "awakening" -- staying up longer, making more money, engaging in marathons of productivity, etc.
Thus, without sleep, we are more susceptible to being tricked into a life that isn't ours. Our time (if you believe in time) isn't ours. What's interesting is that, during a sleepless state of consciousness, we are just as vulnerable as we fear we might become if we close our eyes and trust the world.
(I studied a lot of Media Ecology literature at this point in time and this all became immensely fascinating to me. I could write for days. I'll cut my rambling short for the sake of getting to the point and sparing you the extra screen-time -- go enjoy the real sunshine or some sleep after this!)
How does all that relate back to this image?
I mean, in some ways, what I've said is the polar opposite to what Lil Snupe's apparel so boldly insinuates.
"SLEEP IS FOR THE RICH" -- Maybe it is? And maybe we live in an incredibly backwards time, in which sleep is the luxury that we all should desire, but because we desire material "luxury" (as is defined by the oppressors of our time) and false security, we deny ourselves what we actually need. Because it hurts to be human and vulnerable in our modern day, we're drawn towards behavior that makes us feel less human. We're drawn towards eternity as a constant circumstance -- as a paradox, instead of the moment that it actually consists of.
In some ways, I'm still figuring things out, which is why I enjoyed working on this piece because it still has me thinking. Even the subject matter struck me; Lil Snupe was about 18 years old when he was killed, just a few years younger than me. I didn't want to make this painting an idolatrous piece. I didn't want to pretend I know his life or all of his music, nor did I have any desire to recreate an image for commercial appeal. I wanted it to be respectful and reflective.
Among other things, I thought about what it means to grow up.
Though "24/7" is physically complete, I think it's rather incomplete in effect (which is good because that means it lives). In essence, I hope the portraits I've painted represent something more than a technical display of skill or vibrancy.
More to come,