There is something precious and horrifying about the way mourning unites people. Inheriting a legacy laden with grief lacks the same clarity. Expressions of remembrance become voyeuristic, feel shallow or inauthentic, and fetishize an unfamiliar pain and ignorance. History seems romantic, full of tragedies that prompted loves and losses with intensities unfathomable to me. Like deep water, the ’80s and ’90s are alluring and unfamiliar. I grew up surrounded by prairies, mountains, and now PrEP. Open water envelopes like the past does, prompting a saturation that seems inescapable. I am drowning in an ocean of meager decades, desperately filling my lungs with fluid, hoping that sinking will reveal something that remains unclear from the surface.
Brandon Giessmann is a Canadian visual artist and writer who explores trauma, identity, and memory. He received his BFA from the Alberta University of the Arts in 2018 and his MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2020. His interdisciplinary practice often uses performance, photography, and installation to bridge generational gaps in knowledge and experiences of being in the closet, of genocide, consider the effects of the ongoing AIDS crisis, and reflect upon the role that institutions play in the conservation and presentation of queer histories.