I am a grey matter that you often discard.
I am born from matter and fire.
I symbolize a return to the origin – a return to Earth.
From where you come from, you will return.
I symbolize ground zero,
marking the end to mark a new beginning.
Images you create of yourself, all dissolve one day.
I am the dissolution of the ego.
You may think that I am just the past.
I am also the future.
I scatter into the air, onto the earth,
and reincarnate with that which reincarnates.
I am beautiful.
I am also fatal.
I am the pulverized memory of lava
spewed out from the mouth of the mountain.
One day, thousands of years ago,
the lava descended from the mountain.
Mortality was not in the minds
of the inhabitants of a nearby city.
Pride overflowed from its chalices.
Pomp permeated its lavish rooms.
Then in that one final moment,
I became its remains.
Remains of a civilization
that ceased to exist.
I materialize that moment frozen in time,
when the city was thrown into chaos.
A sudden halt.
Then the final moment of life.
I salvaged all my jewelry and silverware
to my death.
All luxury and wealth,
buried in that instant.
On this eleventh day of the ninth month,
you remember me.
I manifest souls who perished,
when all fell down in that one defining moment
at the Tower of Power.
Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers,
friends, colleagues, bosses, neighbors.
No one had time to say goodbye.
I shrouded the Streets of Gold,
as an eery snow.
I was there to witness
a rude awakening –
that all Power is vulnerable.
I was there to pulverize
arrogance and a false sense
I hold the memories
of those who passed in the New Fear
that spread across the Earth,
and turned our world inside out.
The New Fear shows no mercy,
no matter the color of the skin,
no matter East or West, North or South.
It is blind to boundaries.
All our hidden fears are laid bare.
All our repressed dreams surface to the air.
Repercussions of our carelessness manifest themselves.
Inequalities reveal themselves.
Neighbors love each other more.
Or neighbors fear each other more.
Friends tie stronger bonds.
Or bonds come undone.
More will pass and become me.
More eulogies will be spoken.
Yet, in this uncertainty,
an opportunity for the awakening awaits.
I am the remains of magnificent beings
That suffered the consequences
of nature out of balance.
Before the fire swept across the Southern Land,
I was once a beast of many-colored plumes that flew across the borderless land.
I was once a millenia-old tree whose wise roots reached the center of the earth.
I was once a long-footed grey hermit who reveled in my damp forest home.
Never in this world’s living memory
had so many of my kin been erased.
Our playground and our homes
no longer exist, nor do we.
Once, there was a very angry man.
He believed that some people should cease to exist.
He decided to make them disappear,
and incinerate them to become me.
The hate of one angry man
mirrored the fear hidden inside
the hearts of many men,
compelling him to annihilate an entire tribe.
I am a reminder to humankind
that a tiny seed yields a vast field
from that which we plant.
Suddenly, it spreads like fire.
I am a reminder to humankind
that buried history can reemerge,
that our own belief system
is that which germinates hate.
I am the remains of
forbidden thoughts and ideas,
forbidden poetry and sentiments,
forgotten songs and letters,
forgotten names and births,
annihilated facts and records,
annihilated faiths and wisdom.
Because the words and illustrations
that have disintegrated into me,
are feared by some,
are protected through destruction,
are repressed to silence,
are discarded from memory.
I am smeared on your forehead.
I mark repentance and blessing.
I mark purification and redemption.
I am dyed into the fibers of linen
to bring sobriety
to the robes of men and women
of a silent temple
in the summits of Joseon’s seven mountains.
I am Vibhuti,
a sacred version of me ordained
through burning of dried wood.
To honor Shiva,
I become three lines across the
foreheads of those who believe.
I am the remains of your loved one.
I am returned to you, held inside a vessel.
Often, I hear you all argue as to
where to place me, move me, what to do with me.
Inside a burial vault?
Sealed under a burial stone?
Tucked away in a columbarium niche?
Destined to sleep forever in a tsakang?
Immersed into the sea or a lake?
Scattered into the Ganges?
Scattered in a remembrance garden?
Sometimes I fly across the seas
to my madre patria.
I am cast, trenched, rung, raked,
flown up to the sky
to be scattered high up in the air
to free a soul.
I am the incarnation of power.
When all hopes and dreams are destroyed,
they say that they turn into me.
Though some see me as death,
I am a proof of birth.
I am the tangible remains
of something that was tangible.
I am a remnant.
I am remembrance.
I am memory.
I am temporality.
Though I symbolize grief to some,
remember that I am also rebirth.
Let us mourn and celebrate,
as is such the nature of life.
Nelson Sepulveda is a creator of artisan-made homeware, furniture, and objects. He travels the world to collaborate with local artisan communities for collections he develops for the brands such as Ay Illuminate and Cinq Etoiles. In recent years, he has been driving a project in Bhutan to rebuild a foundation for the country’s contemporary textile collection with the aim to preserve the essence of the culture and its identity by working exclusively with natural and local materials. During his early days in Paris, Nelson designed makeup ranges for luxury brands. He later joined Edelkoort Studio, where he provided creative direction for View and Bloom magazines. He has been a contributing art director, set designer, stylist, and editor for various editorials including Mairie Claire, Selvedge, Le Monde d'Hermes, and Architectural Digest. He has also collaborated on special projects for the brand Dosa. Nelson is represented in Paris by Gallois Montbrun & Fabiani Agency.
Mona Kim is the Founder and Curator of Moowon magazine. As the Creative Director of award-winning multidisciplinary design studio, Mona Kim Projects, she has been conceiving public space experiences and large-scale experiential projects for global brands and cultural institutions. Her museum and exhibition design for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, World Expo, Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã), and UNESCO-sponsored projects, gave her the opportunity to document and be exposed to some of the most distinctive examples of social realities and cultural expressions. She had co-curated world issues such as endangered languages, cultural diversity, sustainability, climate change and anthropocene. The Moowon project is an extension of this background. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, WWD(Women's Wear Daily), The Creative Review, and in publications by Gestalten and The Art Institute of Chicago.
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PHOTOS: COPYRIGHT © NELSON SEPULVEDA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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