Gladys Constanten

I look at this image and I am reminded of the opening lines of a novel, the name of which I cannot recall, which were quoted in a review I read approximately twenty-five years ago and which burned themselves into my memory forever:

“So many things to do today. Kill memory. Kill pain.”

It is daytime, the only safe time to sleep when you are on the streets, especially for a woman. Appropriately, Gladys has rendered her faceless, as if to say: aren’t all the fallen faceless as we scurry past in the hustle-and-bustle of a demented modern life? Gladys’s use of ToonPaint echoes Munch’s “The Scream,” an homage to Van Gogh which just sold for $120 million, and frankly, I think think this image is more horrific. I love the hints of city life reflected in the window behind her, a car, a sign pole, and the swirling sidewalk in the foreground.

The frame is a masterstroke: this is something one would put around a picture of one’s mother, one’s daughter, one’s wife. A gentle reminder of this poor woman’s irreducible humanity.

I wonder what brought her here, to this place. If she is dreaming, I hope they are beautiful dreams, for the reality to which she awakens daily is a cold, hard nightmare.


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