Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
In this writing I will explore several films, videos, performances, and photographs from the past century that resist capitalism’s tendency to crush hubris, exaltation, and indetermination. But first, I would like to reimagine the Greek myth of Icarus. How has the myth shaped our understanding of escape? Daedalus, Icarus’s father, attempts to escape exile from the island of Crete by building his son a pair of wax wings. He warns his son not to fly too close to the sun because the wax will melt, and not to fly too close to the sea because the wings will become waterlogged. Icarus, overcome by the ecstasy of flight, flies too close to the sun and then plummets to his death.
The tale is usually told as a warning about the perils of too-muchness: too-much giddiness, too-much ambition, too-much risk. The myth proposes a kind of bondage to staying in-check. It tells us: you can escape, but only if you keep your emotions, dreams, and desires at bay. But what if Icarus didn’t die at the end of the story? What if, gasping for breath and flailing, he surfaced on the sea—a little bruised and winded, sure, but alive. Yes. Alive! I wrote my highschool valedictorian speech about Icarus picking up the pieces, bandaging his wounds, and building a whole new flying machine, because otherwise he would drown. My 18-year-old self was convinced that tumultuous times were coming, and I wanted to prepare and help others prepare for the worst falls that life had in store. So here I am, almost 20 years later, at the bottom of ocean looking for a way to survive in a world where I will always be flying too close to the sun.
Stark-Menneg, Emile, "Icarus : how to survive the fall" (2019). Masters Theses. 424.
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