Eliza Fernbach: Rushing to Your Death?

In 2001 at an empty French airport I was shoved aside by a harried "fonctionnaire". Searching the vast space around me for some potential hazard, I found nothing apparently dangerous and I wondered why, given the room available, this person needed to shove me.

On one of the highways that lead into the great rushing metropolis of New York I wonder in much the same way as cars speed past narrowly missing each others' bumpers, sides and spewing smoke from their neglected engines.

At the airport my knee-jerk response was to cry out "Rushing to Your Death?" The man stepped onto the escalator at that moment and stood quite still staring at me as the moving stairs smoothly carried him aloft. It was a moving pause. The question is now embedded in my psyche and my work, I have been posing it by way of various media ever since. Pascal suggested we stop and reflect- every artist is in some way dedicated to precipitating this full stop.

So to the Pharmakon...and rushing, I suppose, to your death or to anything. Christina invited me to ponder this intriguing duality when we met at the Book Arts Fair in New York this Fall and talked about illness and velocity. I'm not sure a billboard, a question or even speed itself have duality but Kevin's references to skepticism and enchantment struck me as very apt lens' through which to look at the potentially fatal nature of speed and at the same time the exhilarating super-heroic possibility of eternity that supersonic nay even super-galactic speed suggests.

Until now there was no upside to speeding for me. It is dangerous, it burns more gas and it blurs vivid color into dull greyness. But in the world of Superman and since he's been in the news Batman too- speed actually allows for time travel. More so for Superman who can really go back in time and well, isn't that the most enchanting way of imagining REALLY slowing down? Slowing so much you can actually re-do something...And so, if you don't speed you may get a little closer to Superman by not HAVING to re-do anything because you did it slowly enough to get it as right as it needs to be.

The only time I have seen speed enchantingly benefit anyone was when it was combined with precision. A tap dancer navigated a contemplative labyrinth I had set up and I was amazed at how he maximized his passage and his experience of the journey. Perhaps that is why speed has doses on the highway. It is poison at one point and er, shall I say useful if not healing at another.

There's something in Jacques Prévert's quip about the passage of time that touches this duality of velocity..." Time,you say that it passes just as it stops to sit down and watch you go by."

So is the billboard a sort of pharmakon? I'm not sure. It certainly made some people irate enough to submit poisoned reactions in the comment section of the accompanying website and inspired others to enchanting, maybe even healing epiphanies which they graciously shared with me too.

I suffered pretty rugged symptoms with chemical and environmental sensitivity myself and found the use of antigens successful in healing my broken immune system. As a result I am no longer a skeptic about the importance of moderation and the idea albeit more and more a fairytale that there is "Just enough, just exactly enough of something" and finding it can be a real joy ride.

-Eliza Fernbach