Fact Face, Finding the Truth Inside





"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." - Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I





Judas, 2020





Harry Dean, 2020





Foiled Prince, 2020





The Light's Inside, 2020





Lingerie, 2020





Shredder, 2020





Space Face, 2020





Untitled, 2020





Untitled, 2020





Videodrome, 2020





Isolation, 2020





Flower Face, 2020





“When somebody's wearing a mask, he's gonna tell you the truth. When he's not wearing a mask, it's highly unlikely."
~ Bob Dylan


I didn’t have trouble waking up that morning. In fact, my eyes were open before the sun rose and I had my shoes on and bag over my shoulder just as the alarm sounded. Angeles by Elliott Smith played, which was ironic because the lyrics say so glad to meet you Angeles, and I was on my way out of L.A. “Alexa, stop,” I muttered and embraced the dawn’s silence. I have always loved these sober early mornings after a dreamless, drinkless slumber: no hangover, no suicidal thoughts, etcetera. It’s pretty easy for me to go a night without booze if I have some important business the next day - especially when that business involves me driving clear across the country to a fate that would forever change my life and prompt me to write this letter to you. Not that I haven’t been writing you for years, my friend, but the challenge of typing something truly honest always got in the way - that and the fact I would never be Henry Miller or Truman Capote always fucked with my ability to share my words with you. After reading In Cold Blood, I said, that’s it, why anyone still writes is a mystery to me. Like all drunks, I’m also quite fond of procrastinating - starting and stopping personal projects depending on my alcohol intake and general disposition. Then there’s that line in Tropic of Cancer that’s always in the forefront of my mind anytime I sit down in front of my dirty laptop: There are no more books to be written, thank God. But, hey, this ain’t a book and I don’t believe in God, so let the pressure of being anybody else but me disappear.

That isn’t true - and I feel sick for saying that - I do believe in God in my own little way - and I certainly fear Hell - but on the morning I woke up to leave L.A. for New York, any spark of a higher power still shining in the shadows of my heart had been put away only to be prayed to - or cursed at - in moments of anguish, which is usually just before bed. Please God, I sometimes pray, don’t let me have a dream or nightmare.

This silly prayer began, I wanna say, in elementary school when the first platoon of demons introduced themselves to me while I slept, dead-set on convincing me that my suburban life north of Houston, Texas wasn’t as happy as I thought it was. I called them demons then and I call them demons now - the ominous voices in my head that don’t take too kindly to the better parts of me steering the ship. Please God, don’t let me have a dream or a nightmare, I prayed before drifting to sleep the night before my drive. I prayed extra hard because I knew the absence of alcohol would make me vulnerable to the demons’ fight for power. Please God. Please. Please. Please.

Getting out of L.A. from Silver Lake took about 10 minutes - yes, only 10 fucking minutes - which is unheard of, having the heaviest traffic in the United States. At that time, a lot of people on social media were comparing the pandemic to a zombie apocalypse, so when I was packing up my 2007 Ford Escape, I couldn’t help but imagine I was fleeing some end of the world shit. I left with a bag of clothes, blankets and pillows to sleep in my car, an expired driver license, an imaginary shotgun to kill the zombies, and a whole lot of booze for one, including a 30-pack of Tecate and a couple bottles of Bulleit Bourbon - Colette’s favorite whiskey, which is why I bought them. It wasn’t my plan to drink and drive, although, in retrospect, unless I was swerving across the highway like a drunk lunatic, there was no way I was getting pulled over if I had indulged in a little swig here and there - not during a global pandemic. It was March 30, 2020, when COVID-19 was still new and mysterious in the U.S. and most of us, including the police, were beginning to fear contact unless absolutely necessary (this worry would all but disappear in a few months after the murder of George Floyd). Plus, a few Facebook posts said that cops called off giving traffic tickets to eliminate the possibility of spread. Still, the fear of getting another DUI kept me responsible and gave me something to look forward to. Each night, I would find a Walmart parking lot to sleep in and toast to a fine day of driving. You’ve earned this, I’d simper and get good and buzzed behind the dirt-stained windows of my car, shielded from the outside world and all of its misery.

New York City was the pandemic's epicenter at the time, so, naturally, most of my friends and family thought I was insane for going there. I would later find out that my parents were engaging in a secret text thread with my brothers about the whole situation. "Who is Colette?" they would ask, crudely assuming behind puzzled smiles that I might have been thinking with my dick and not my brain. "I don't know," one of my brothers would tell my mom before giving tongue to my unpredictable past, "That's Shane! He's always uprooting his life to deal with depression." In so many words, my psychiatrist would tell me it's common for individuals living with Bipolar [Type II] Disorder to initiate episodes of geographical change when the going gets tough. I once balked at this, unwilling to accept my diagnosis, shamed by society's stigmas towards mental illness. Even Colette, who I would eventually quarantine with in her Brooklyn apartment, thought I was a little crazy for leaving L.A.; although, she refrained from expressing such a sentiment with the hope that my presence would serve as a conduit to isolation's antonym. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we long for companionship; people need people. That, and we were in love, Colete and I. Right? I was certainly in love with alcohol, drinking myself to death in front of her until a spotlight over all my insecurities became unbearably blinding. Before I knew it, I was back in my Ford Escape, beating myself up for hitting yet another rock bottom. A number of days and drinks later, I checked myself into a recovery facility outside of Austin, Texas, which I won't detail at this moment, but just know: I now view life as before rehab and after rehab.

Upon my release, I began doing something that I hadn't done in a very long time: sober art. This was in June, at my parent's house on Lake Travis. I started with a self-portrait meant to express my internal, shadow-self and give voice to a character I tend to ignore, afraid he'll lead to my demise. The result? Love, understanding, forgiveness - a few things I'm determined to give myself more of. I wrapped my head in Reynolds aluminum and captured what would later be titled The Foiled Prince. Take this for what it's worth, but it was the most honest picture I'd ever shot. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Truth be told, as I grow on this journey to become the best version of myself during a global pandemic in a country divided, the more I learn, the less I know. But love has to be the answer, right? And how are you gonna love the world if you can't love yourself? One day at a time. Please God. One day at a time.

Stay safe, positive, and present.

— Shane Coffey








Fact Face, Finding the Truth Inside


Curated by Gordy Grundy for Art Report Today







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