Art by Anna Burt
accompanied by the artist’s commentary
This is a picture of the captain of the Bismarck standing on the bow of his sinking ship and saluting while going down with it. Some survivors in the water reported that they saw their captain do this. It's deeply metaphorical. I haven't yet finished the painting but I started it 3 years ago at the point where I realized that my outward identity as a cis hetero man was crumbling, smashed and sinking, like the Bismarck. The Bismarck was an instrument constructed for the purposes of a misguided society, much like the false identity I had attempted to cling to. The Bismarck was actually misgendered by her captain, who stated that the Bismarck should be referred to as "he" because of the ship's great power, which was a misogynistic statement if there ever was one. The Bismarck performed admirably in its misgendered role imposed on by a corrupt society, but the outcome was inevitable.
What the captain's thoughts were in his final moments is anyone's guess, and it has never been conclusively proven he ever stood on the bow of his ship as it went down. Historians believe he was killed on the bridge early in the battle and was already dead by that stage. But the story is compelling because it holds a deep metaphorical symbolism. The captain standing on the bow giving his final salute is symbolic of the death of my male identity. It was not as though I had not tried and fought a great battle but the end was upon me, and the calm stance and salute is symbolic of a final acceptance and an acquiescence. The light beams coming from the clouds is an element I added symbolizing that this was the end of one life and the beginning of the other.
The second piece is much more direct. It is the emergence of my new self. It is truly the coming out picture. My new self has fought a new battle and has won, unlike my old self. The dragon of fear and social pressure is the one broken and defeated. The reference to an earlier time in history and legend, because the spirit of a woman was always there, and in every way much deeper. Primal.