she looks to the sky
the balloon floats away
on the back of her dreams
and she is left to stare
at nothing but ruined hope
An Ode to the Girl Who I Could Never Write
I found the girl in the middle of the street with a balloon in her hand. It was on the verge of either floating away or falling to the ground. She became the contradiction I yearned for among the many regularities in my life. She stood with a balloon, symbolising all the ruined hope, in her hand in the middle of the road.
The wind picked up and the balloon floated away and so her dreams lay in ruins next to her. I wondered if I could help her rebuild everything from the start, from the ground up, but she stood alone and looked at the sky as if hope might fall into her lap.
It was recently her birthday and she received a silver star balloon. As she stood in the middle of the road with the half-deflated balloon a couple of days later, I found myself thinking about Banksy's Girl with Balloon. Now more than ever, the youth in our world feel the hopelessness that the girl with the red balloon feels. We can only look at the sky, by now filled with red balloons, as all our hopes, desires, and dreams float away from us. All that is left is this strange feeling of hopelessness, which promotes (provokes) anger inside us as we see so many others who could not care less, who gain everything from our demise. We see them with thousands of red-silver balloons, while we have nothing, everything is lost because of a change of wind.
It is so easy to get caught up with all the bad news floating around, but one should also be realistic and realise that dreams are ruined because of greed, and the strange reliance on values that exclude so many others. We are facing a world in which the inherent value structure is still exclusionary, and we as individuals can do nothing about this. The half-fallen balloon in the girl's hand symbolises this, but also the fact that the balloon looks like it wants to float away. It is in this contradiction, the floating away and at the same time the tumbling down, that I present to you this series of photographs of the girl who I could never write. I hope you enjoy these photographs.
Postscriptum, or There is Hope at the End of the Tunnel
One of my girlfriend's favourite songs from her favourite band says the following (which I translated):
And that is all that we need. A little bit of hope. We do not need riches, we do not need excess food, we need only a little bit of hope, something that we can hold onto. Hope is the moment in which we can envision a future that does not restrict our movement, hope is the moment in which we can see the earth healing itself from infinite growth and corporate greed. Hope is that which we can hold onto without seeing it crumble in our hands. Hope can be a silver balloon that does not float away, nor tumble to the ground.
Yet our modern living does not allow for all that much hope. Environmental destruction, shrinking job markets and collapsing economies. Wars raging so far in the distance and wars are raging on our cell phones. Companies that want you to continually buy buy buy while they reprimand you for being an unconscious consumer polluting the earth. The economy relies on you to buy buy buy while the same economy does not have enough money to provide you with a job.
It is easy to feel despondent in this economy, in this world. I cannot fathom how it must be for those worse off than me. I have so many luxuries compared to a few others, yet I have so few compared to a few others. There are those who fall into a job, which I envy, but there are others who struggle to put food on the table, whom I wish I could help. But then one starts to question, is this really how everything should go? Should ruined dreams really be the norm in our society?
Most will agree, that ruined hopes should not be the norm. In a society in which there is so much wealth, you begin to wonder why some of that which I helped create does not trickle down to me. Not in the sense that I also want to be rich, but only to help with creating some dreams. In a country like my own, dreams are something of a luxury. Not everyone attends a good school, not everyone can afford tertiary education, and not everyone has the luxury of eating enough each day. Dreams are luxuries when you have money. Silvery-red-hope-filled balloons do not always get to those who are at the bottom.
But we can find hope in being alive, we can find hope in the small things that do change, and we can find hope in the transformation that does happen. There are so many projects that create hope, there is so much happening on the horizon that inspires hope. The most important thing is to not lose hope...
I hope that you have some home that you can hold onto.
Stay well, and happy photographing.
All of the musings are my own, unless hyperlinked or stated otherwise. All of the photographs are my own, taken with my Nikon D300 and Tamron 300mm zoom lens or 50 mm Nikkor lens.