By Annelise Schübeler
“Letter to Rabi (2011-13) was originally part of an exhibition on HIV/AIDS arranged by Doctors Without Borders, where it was first exhibited in its original format. The work is carried by a dialogue between a Nepalese boy with HIV, Rabi, and Brandt. Rabi has sent drawings and photos of his life to Brandt and they are included in the artwork alongside Brandt’s letters to Rabi. Included in the artwork are also photos and objects from the Western cultural narrative on HIV/AIDS. The artwork’s dialogical form highlights differences between the Nepalese boy and the white, western, male artist, such as ethnicity, age and class. However, the dialogue also builds a bridge by way of highlighting the connection between the existential exposure of the man and the concrete, physical vulnerability of the child. The community is also reflected in the father/son theme, which negotiates masculinity, as there is no son to carry forth the paternal heritage. When Rabi suddenly died, Brandt decided to continue working on the project, which added yet another layer of meaning, as the man faces the death of ‘his son’ and is thus confronted with his own mortality. The loss is inscribed in silk in the soft remembrance blanket and the beauty of the work celebrates the dead and creates a tension to the loss. The meeting with the other thus also becomes a meeting with the absence of other through death, and thus also a reflection on our own mortality”. (Annelise Schübeler, extract from Peter Brandt’s gendered dialogues, in the book Post Trauma Documents, page 21, 2016).
Letter to Rabi, applicated textile, photographs by Rabi (taken in 2013), objects, VHS tape of Derek Jarman’s film Blue, picture of Paul Thek, texts, painting and drawings by Rabi, 2011 – 13.