T, my lover and the father of my son, died of a stroke on 5 April 2010. He collapsed in front of us on a beach by the North Sea. The violence of his death wrapped me in a vast emptiness . . . a silence resounded in me like the echo of some intensely blue sky, devoid of planes, but devoid only because they were escaping the ashes of a volcano’s anger, my anger.
In order to cope, I plunged myself into the daily routine of writing the journal I’ve been keeping for over ten years, a channel for both my suffering and the excess energy and life I found boiling over within me.
Intimate as my experience had been, I began to recognise it in the words of those who started seeking me out, hoping to share their own experiences of death and mourning. These wounds, so difficult to express, only rarely find a empathetic listener, even though it’s only through shared words that the deceased can take on a little more life.
Self-portraits imposed themselves on me, mostly because I needed to be looked at – either by myself or by a camera imitating the gaze of the one I loved – and because they proved I was still alive. I think of the self-portrait as a mirror of all the violence that befalls us. But my work also deals with the new relationship that developed between me and my son, a rapport that was at once compassionate and confrontational, gentle and violent.