How to say goodbye?
Three years ago something big changed in my life. That change helped me tremendously in starting to believe in myself as an artist, and indirectly in starting to believe in myself.
Three years ago, the queer art publication Et Alors dedicated ten pages to my work and to an interview with me about my art and me being an artist (http://www.etalorsmagazine.com/agustin-martinez). It was the first time ever my work was being seen by and appreciated by people who didn’t know me personally. So I could not just diminish it by saying it was friends being friendly, like I used to do.
Being discovered by and published in Et Alors changed my life. Oh sure, I’m still struggling with seeing myself as an artist, and believing in myself. But that experience with Et Alors helped and still helps me to fight those struggles and combat those doubts. And the power it has given me has helped me to realize expositions in for instance Girona, Barcelona, Antwerp and Rotterdam, and soon in Málaga. And to publications like VICE and The Advocate covering my work, exposing them to thousands of people. I cannot express how grateful I am to Et Alors.
But also in another way the connection with Et Alors led to something I am very grateful for. Fleur and Julian, the couple behind Et Alors, came to the opening of my expo in Antwerp. I felt intimidated, but they immediately replaced that feeling with a welcoming warmth, a sensation of being included. The connection became even surreal as it turned out Julian and me have almost the same tattoo, on the same part of our bodies.
In the beginning of last year we met again, in their beautiful village of Frigiliana in the south of Spain. That visit was incredible: any topic we talked about ― and there were many ― turned into an inspiring conversation, and I mean inspiring literally: leading to inspiration. They also told us about their upcoming art project, a mind-blowing concept. And a very relevant one. Meanwhile I’m afraid we did finish almost all of their whisky collection, while lunch turned into spending the rest of the day together. The last day of our visit the four of us drove to the city of Málaga, where we visited a run-down sculpture park, the “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich” exhibition by Sandro Miller that we planned to see and one next door that we discovered by surprise and impacted all of us: David Ryan McGinley. When we said goodbye that day, I think all four of us felt that magic had happened and a beautiful new deep bond had been born.
Waiting 125 years
The preparations for Fleur and Julian’s art project, called 22, soon got them very occupied. The idea behind it is for them to get married in all the countries where marriage is open to all couples, whether they are heterosexual or not. The title of the project comes from the number of countries where Fleur and Julian actually could marry when their project was launched: only 22 in the whole world. ‘At the current rate we will reach global recognition of same-sex marriage in the year 2142. That’s 125 years from now, so let’s see if they can get it to go a bit faster,’ states the project’s web-site (http://22theproject.com/).
“Our work is trying to capture current times and how the world functions on the level of gay and gender equality ― how it is changing and evolving,” Julian told the Huffington Post (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/22-same-sex-marriage-project_us_598e0e2be4b09096429706e0). “It’s enriching and necessary to show these perspectives in a positive and beautiful manner because I belief this is the only way by which you can make change.” Julian and Fleur sold most of their possessions to help fund their project, their belief, and started traveling the globe with just one suitcase each.
On September 20th, New York City Clerk Michael McSweeney wed the couple in Manhattan’s City Hall, and this way launched the 22 project officially. The press coverage was impressive, and the positive message of this coverage was heart-warming. As were the images of Fleur and Julian: so obviously in love, so happy (look for instance at VICE‘s photos: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/d3y3km/wedding-photos-of-the-lesbian-couple-getting-married-in-24-countries). In the months to follow the couple wed again in The Netherlands, Belgium and France. Meanwhile Germany, Malta and Australia changed their laws, raising the number of countries where Julian and Fleur could get married from 22 to 25!
And the next wedding location on the list was Spain, in January! We were thrilled and started thinking about how we could mobilize media, funds, art and queer communities, and everybody else, to help spread their inspiration and love even more. Easy, because the beauty and the positivism of Fleur & Julian’s project is so inspiring and empowering that everywhere people want to be part of it and want to spread it. No wonder that even Ellen Degeneres invited them to appear on her show in February, allowing Fleur and Julian’s message to be spread to millions.
But the couple will not go.
Mid-December Fleur contacted us: Julian was diagnosed with several tumors in her head and around her heart. The medical doctors gave her a few more months, of which most of the time she will spend in a coma. And instead of preparing the next steps of the manifestation of their love, 22 and the Madrid wedding, Fleur has to prepare herself for letting her beautiful bride go…
Shortly after the diagnosis, Julian had to leave the hospital, as the medical staff could not do anything for her anymore. She returned to the house of Fleur’s mom, to spend the remaining time with her wife, though mostly in a coma. Meanwhile she’s receiving palliative care, providing her with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical and mental stress of the terminal diagnosis through specialized medical and nursing care. It’s such a cruel fate for a couple with so much lust for life, so generous, so full of love for each other and the world…
And so I, as so many who are connected with the cause and the hearts of Julian and Fleur, have to prepare myself for a goodbye that I find too cruel to face. How to say goodbye to one I don’t want to let go?
In this very sad situation, would you please allow me to ask you a personal favor? Last week, Fleur was told by their health insurance the company will only refund the hospital costs, and not the palliative care. Which means she will not only lose the love of her life, but will also have to face huge bills. In order to try to take these material worries away Robert, a friend of hers, has started a funding campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/we-want-you-to-know-we-care. Would you please be so kind to spread this link? The webpage even has a button that will publish the link automatically on your Facebook or Twitter page. We will never be able to take away Fleur’s pain, but this way at least we can do something for her, and let them know we care. Please let this couple, who have so generously spread love, inspiration and awareness through their magazine and other projects, feel how their beautiful project doesn’t stop here, but that their love and generosity will keep on inspiring us. Please keep it alive by living it.
Thank you so much.