Artist Animal

Emeshe Amade


Let’s start at the core, where it is dark.
Deep ocean,
deeper ocean,
deepest ocean.
The creatures of the great abyss are closer to the heart of the earth than any human. Bosom friends with the molten heat, molten black. They know the earth at its most intimate. The sweating tectonic plates sigh as they push against each other to leave the surface skimmers shuddering. The ones that live below don’t quake. They know only the weight
of every nieve wave. The surface skimmers only dabble in darkness. 13,000 feet below the surface black is not a color, it is an orchestra. The whale carcass sends the sweetest silt swirling. It is an obsidian bass beat. The great ship is not yellow, blue, or red. It is not “russian,” not “cuban,” not human gift. Sunk, it is the brass section crushing a glorious crescendo into the silence.
Every pale creature is listening for the music.
        Bioluminescence molds the void. Sculpts it’s shape anew. The black has a hole in it. The finest sculptor of darkness is the dragon fish. It’s eerie light draws the admiration of every pearl eye. The pure beauty of deadly sun glow. Waving the wisp with an expert flourish the fish invites all its critics to flirt with death.
The darkness is scored into glorious new shapes.
The darkness is transmuted by an electric snap.
The darkness is Venus, David, Buddha, Christ.
The darkness moves on.
        In the currents which churn the ancient sea giant tube worm sing soliloquies. They don’t have mouths. They build their song chambers silently, huddled by the ventricles of the earth’s heart. The tube worm’s instrument is a white exoskeleton. It is a node shaped to transmit vibration. As the tube worm grows, foot by foot, it painstakingly crafts it’s instrument. When it dies, the shell will continue to reverberate with silent melody. A requiem bouncing, bouncing, back and forth, forever.
        Yes, the giant tube worms wish to be remembered. For in the warm poison blackness all life is tenuous. If a thermal vent closes, everything that depends on it will die — starve and freeze in anonymity. That is why the bacteria perform theater. If they do not encircle the great red beast just so, the goddess will take offense. Their theater is the movement of their colonies in intertwining shapes. Their audience is the throbbing gash in the darkness. Moving past their peers with an urgent sincerity, they emit their costumes from themselves. Each fiber of their body a symbol of worship. They worship the heat, the heat, the heat. Life long they preen for it, and each moment the vent does not close is the most thunderous applause.


        For me, I mostly make art when I eat and fuck. That is, if the inside of my mouth is a sculpture, and I am a museum, that’s when the doors open. The general public storms in on a Sunday morning; students get in free. The artist’s whim starts shaping the tongue, jaw, lips, and cheeks into an original piece. The distance my teeth lift away from each other represents some degree of existential sorrow: physical Camus. When my tongue curls under it is the dauntless human spirit, lapping up bravery like a wagon train. If my drool pools on the left side I’m showing off.
If my jaw locks:
a) I am having delusions of grandeur.
b) I have become the Smithsonian.
c) It is time to call the curator.
Regardless, my tongue will remain the centerpiece, inspiring the audience to contemplate Hungarian cherry stew and quieter towns than this one. I shape my muscles as symbols of forgiveness. I shape postmodern commentary on how art can be gross now. The slick chomp sounds of hedonist sculpture.
I never want to disappoint patrons of the arts.


        We’re at the middle, so let’s go to the inbetween. The dawn grey water between the mountains and the Marianas Trench. A membrane of water insulates the performance of the salacious cuttlefish from above. It is a drag show, a theater of the sexes. Desire driven, the cuttlefish changes his color to mimic the blush of a female. He remembers a blue mouth that entangled him like a fairy tale. Yes, cuttlefish have fairy tales. Yes, they remember and dance. His tentacles sway, an embodied homage to the bodies of women. He hides his himself to approach her as herself. With this performance the cuttlefish annihilates fear and asks Are we so different? asks Will you open yourself to me?
                In the vast green ocean.
                                        vast meat
        There are animals in the world who do not ask questions.
        Instead, they prefer to admire. Mosquitoes see heat. It is their medium. In their eyes, the inferred glow of an elk herd convalesces into God. It is the Sistine Chapel.
        God is real because God is the sun. Mosquitoes live so far from the boiling metal at the earth’s core that they, like humans, must look outside the world for the divine. Poor things — that is why they are always restless, always rushing to taste blood — why they see every body as an ornate temple built by the sun. It is proof that we receive beauty from beyond our atmosphere. That help is out there. That help is coming. Mosquitoes gaze mesmerized by the holy warmth in our bodies, until they pierce the black, cool soil that is the skin they came from.


At the End: What the painting

Red Then Black means.

“Dying is an art, like everything else.” Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus

Dear Sylvia Plath,

As a current inhabitant of everything else, and as a current inhabitant of what it means to die, I’d like to put in my own two cents on living as an art. Yesterday I sat down and closed my eyes. Which turned me into a hushed theater when the lights have just gone off. I waited in the dark. When the overture began it was quiet but persistent. Completely still — I leaned forward in my chair, and cupped my ears to hear the bump grow louder. What had been the fly buzz of a bass beat doubled in force — stamp, jump, pound. Black hands reached from the back of my eyelids to clasp the clap of my heart. Tapping against the weight
                    of my skin, the throbbing music acquiesced to a smoother string section. My lungs played the sweetness of Tchaikovsky’s first waltz. The oxygen swelled around anything hard inside my body like my bones were Atlantis and my breath was the ocean. That was when I realized that to have a body is to be a painting. To have a body is to be mixed by the elements, to be their expression — their medium. To have every single thing combine briefly so that I can symbolize human breath pulse. Still, and quiet, and alive alive alive— in the darkness I discovered that I am as close to the heart as I will ever be.

Animal, Artist