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Above is a scratch recording of a short talk i gave at the taft museum during the opening ceremony of my presentation as the 2024 duncanson artist-in-residence. i used this voice memo recording to practice my remarks as i walked the twenty minutes from my airbnb to the museum, en route to the opening ceremony. below are the draft remarks.

i want to talk about death.

it’s become a recent obsession of mine.

i can’t stop thinking about it.

but when i think back i have to admit this interest in death is historical.

i remember as a child scaring myself with thoughts of eternity.

i would imagine myself running through a flower field in heaven and i would say to myself, “tunde you’re going to run, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.” and the more i thought about forever the greater my anxiety.

then i would actually run away to distract myself with something less scary.

so even then i was contending with death, but from a different place.

my recent interest in death is not sudden or surprising.

i lost my mother about a year and a half ago and it still feels like joke.

i’m more in disbelief than sad. and i am sad. my grieving is manifested as incredulity, like, “i can’t believe this shit.”

so death. it’s coming. it’s been here.

but this is my problem. my death is my cross to bear, as your death is yours, as my mother’s was hers. each of us has to come to terms with our own death.

in this way death offers something life doesn’t; a path to personal salvation or misery, decided by you.

life also offers us something that death does not. community.

we die alone but live together. so my death is my business. your death is your business but my life is OUR business, your life is OUR business.

life is OUR collective business because we live in community.

and this is a problem because living in community requires dependence and cooperation. and this we are not good at.

it’s obvious that we aren’t good at community because we refuse to distribute, in a proper way, the material resources that sustain life.

resources like food, housing, transportation, rest, leisure, healthcare, education.

instead of investing in the public welfare, another way of saying community, our economic, social and political systems have prioritized private consumption.

in this way our communities promote life for some and death for others.

so we are back to death or to disparity really.

to the disparate conditions that support life and nurture death.

and now we can see that life and death are not in fact the business of the individual but they are the business of community.

and how is this business of community conducted? money. if you have it you stand a better chance of living well… dying well.

money is how material resources in community are distributed.

then the uneven distribution of money in our communities is effectively the uneven distribution of death. 

so i have come to speak about money, that is to say i have come to speak about life. 

and food is how i hope we can gather around this very important conversation about life.

i wish you all life.

 

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