I CAN’T BREATHE
In memory of George Perry Floyd Jr.
(October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020)
George Floyd was an Afro-American killed during an arrest on May 25, 2020, after a police officer kneeled on his neck while he was pinned to the floor. The kneeling lasted over 9 minutes.
While in a chokehold, Floyd repeatedly claimed that he couldn’t breathe.
The footage of the arrest also shows people who stopped at the scene alerting the policeman that Floyd was choking and even bleeding from the mouth. But the officer didn’t listen to either Floyd or anyone else.
Seeing the footage for the author was shocking. By looking at it, you get the feeling that the officer was even pleased with the situation(1).
In those absurd minutes, the officer deprived Floyd of his life, his dignity, even his decency. He trampled his soul with all the inner flame, knocking it to the ground and stifling it until nothing of that flame remained. Not even his smoke.
Seeing those images, the author immediately thought of a sequence of a candle deprived of its flame. That same evening he created the sequence of this artwork, where each shot represents one of those dramatic 9 minutes.
(1) Neurosciences shows that aggressive behaviours lower the level of stress (this could happen by blocking glucocorticoid generation – Sapolsky – Behave – Ed. Vintage 2017, p125, 132). Maybe this could explain the agent’s attitude that the author has perceived in the footage of the arrest.