[-empyre-] Week 4 on -empyre: Natalie Jerimenjenko and Kathy High

Kathy High kittyhigh at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 24 09:06:11 EST 2013

Hi everyone,
I have loved all the entries everyone has posted in the past few weeks-
thank you to everyone who has contributed along the way. And special thank
to Robert for your postings. These stories have been amazing to read and
give a
really wonderful rounded picture of Shani/Beatriz. All your
have brought up many emotions, memories and tears ­ and I appreciate your
insights. Thank you.

My story: Shani and I were close, but I didn¹t know her nearly as well
as the others who have written. We had admired each other¹s work for years
(from afar). Shani asked me to become better friends with her after she
to NYC in 2011 and when she was in the throes of her cancer. I was very
by her request. And so we did exactly that ­ we became closer friends. I
felt a
deep connection with Shani and what she was working on ­ especially in her
years. I think we trusted each other because many of our concerns were
very close.

And writing this is funny in its timing ­I have had a terrible case of
shingles over the past two weeks which has left me house-bound and in a
lot of
pain. I only share this because it has added another layer of empathy for
Shani¹s situation as I was reading everyone¹s texts. The fact that she
so much from a place of Œdis-ease¹ was amazing. This state brings clarity
one¹s situation, and the need for urgency and focus. And it creates a good
to cut through the bullshit (not that Shani had a problem with cutting
bullshit!). It makes one choosey and select priorities carefully ­ and
brings a
sharpening of the senses. Everyone who has written has noted this focused
that Shani worked from in her last years. It was palpable. And the sense
her time was precious and limited was evident.

And as I think about her later art pieces ­ which she was very excited
about ­ I am super moved by her works around cancer ­ Dying for the Other,
and the Anti-
Cancer Survival Kit, The Life Garden - all part of The Cost of Life
Of course, because of my work with lab animals, Shani¹s very real look at
use of lab mice for research on her cancer drugs touches my heart. We had
talked about the links between Dying for the Other and Embracing Animal.
Now I see through Shani¹s Dying For the Other, the real desire she had for
forming the link with our animal
counterparts, giving a new regard for these invisible workers, and
providing a better
understanding of our collaboration and debt to them. It is hard for me to
watch Dying
For The Other now - and to see Shani in it ­ now that she is gone. She
seems just like an experimental animal in the video. It is so poignant and
equalizing and strange.

Shani would often surprise me. A number of years ago I complimented
her after a talk she gave at a conference. And she looked at me and said,
I thought it as crap.² She was dissatisfied in a funny way with her work
in a way that was insecure but rather dismissive. I am not sure which work
was referring to specifically, but it was this drive to always push
forward ­
to continue her search ­ and her researchŠ Maybe she was getting ready for
final work which had a different kind of connection to biology (animal and
plant), to the body, and to life and death.

I think one of Shani¹s final and unfulfilled projects ­ and one of the
most beautiful ones, was her collaborative work with Lucinha (³bringer of
light²), her collaborator and service dog companion.
Shani wanted a service dog and in late 2011 and the beginning of 2012 ­
and started
making inquiries as to how one should go about Œgetting¹ one. Sadly, it
take up to a couple years to obtain a service dog. So Shani, in her
way, decided she would train her own. She knew she was going to be faced
balance problems following future brain surgery, so she initially got
Lucinha was to help with
that. But she soon began to think in other ways about the types of service
Lucinha might provide. I askedRobert about this ­ and he shared a few
facts with me.


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