What is the color of my father’s eyes?
Ruty Chinsky Amitay
The question “what is the color of my father’s eyes?” which also serves as the title for this piece, has to do with a pattern of externalized physical expressions, such as the lowering of one’s gaze in response to an emotional discomfort brought on by hidden feelings of awe, anxiety, shame, guilt and even repressed anger felt by the subject as a results of a sight, action or even a mere thought, which does not align with what is expected of that subject in a given, rigid social system.
This physical response of lowering one’s gaze deviates from the horizontal point of balance, which exists when two people gaze directly at one another and make eye contact. The apparent protection created by this reaction attests to a failed attempt to disrupt the existing hierarchy. However, at the same time, the failure causes the hidden resistance to surface, along with the oppressive implications of the sanctioning mechanisms, which apply psychological pressure on any who dare to break through the boundaries and gaze directly at the truth.
The eyes that break out onto the screen one by one, like autonomous entities of disturbing, deterring gazes, conduct themselves on the point of tension between the open-eyed gaze and the closed-eyed gaze, between the subservient and the rebellious, between the oppressed and the fighter, between the hidden and the exposed; between the seemingly shielded eye concealed beneath the thick layer of skin that tries to hide the gaze and the persistence and physical and mental effort required to remove this protective layer,overcome the forces pressuring one to hide one’s gaze and open one’s eyes. The wide-open eye that gazes straight ahead into space, like a threatening disturbance, may be vulnerable and helpless, but it is able to penetrate seemingly forbidden spaces, kept hidden and distanced by social and political power mechanisms that silence, separate and restrain.
The piece points out the tension between the attempt to subdue the individual’s power to look at reality correctly and cause him or her to withdraw into him or herself, by using sanctions that push all that which deviates from the interests of the centers of power that create the social structures that blind the gaze into danger, guilt and sin; and the stubborn, persistent attempt to undermine these centers of power, hoping to bring change.
Ruty Chinsky Amitay