Somewhere in Kelowna a person is worried Alzheimer’s Disease is stealing his or her father and nothing can be done.
“I wonder if I will get it (It would be better to die from another cause). He is deteriorating very quickly and I feel guilt that I can’t help,” this anonymous person wrote on postcard left with the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art.
Another postcard, torn right where the author admits to his or her role in the secret disclosed, suggests there’s a father out there who is victimizing an unnamed soul in a manner already inflicted on the postcard’s author.
The illicit concern, scribed in black marker says: “I’m worried that Dad is doing the same thing to someone else.”
Inspired by Frank Warren’s stupendously successful PostSecret experiment, which asked people to anonymously decorate a postcard with a secret to be posted online, the city’s alternative art gallery is collecting family secrets from Kelowna for its own show and experiment.
The show’s curator and artist, Kylie Millar, stresses this is very much an experiment. For one thing, a curator tends not act as artist on a show as the curator’s role doesn’t generally include sharing an opinion on the work whereas Millar fully intends to do so as the artist at the helm of the project.
Though she has not spoken publicly about it as yet, there is a purpose to this collection of personal disclosures.
“In our generation, I find that there’s more suicides, more bullying, less confidence,” she said. “Whether that has to do with families being less supportive I don’t know, but I wanted to open up that jar.”
Millar comes from an extremely committed and supportive family unit, but has nevertheless known of several suicides among her peers—though thankfully she has never been one of the people directly connected to the situation. Recent media reports, particularly on the deaths of homosexual youth targeted for their sexuality by peers, suggest these issues are on the tips of more tongues, at the very least.
The original PostSecret.com website spawned several books and Warren eventually connected with a non-profit suicide hotline, using proceeds from PostSecret to support a route to help people deal with the cause and effect of hiding difficult and painful secrets.
“I understand that sometime when we believe we are keeping a secret, that secret is actually keeping us,” Warren has been quoted as saying. He started the project as a social experiment, clearly learning a few things along the way.
Millar says she is having difficulty with some of the secrets disclosed to her in this project thus far.
“Because of the way they have come to me, usually, so far, I know who they are—so it’s been difficult to take those in,” she said.
There are several anonymous drop boxes for the secrets that she would like people to use. They are located in the Kelowna Art Gallery, the Alternator Gallery (in the Rotary Centre for the Arts), the UBCO Fine Arts Building (this one floats throughout the building) and the UBCO Campus Pride Resource Centre.
A display of these secrets will be created in the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art opening Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Millar is still accepting secrets and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. How long this airing of laundry shall last remains her own hidden gem.