The shocking death of Catalan footballer Dani Jarque, a defender for RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, brings to mind (of course) the similar passing of Sevilla’s Antonio Puerta two years ago. For me, the most striking and upsetting aspect of that situation wasn’t his collapse on the pitch, youthful and handsome yet so virtually lifeless when he had been playing top-level football only seconds before, but this image of his heavily pregnant girlfriend Mar Roldan:
It sends shivers up my spine. It is harrowing, horrible, awful. The sense of loss smacks you in the face, a bitter little taste of what you might well have to deal with yourself one day, but you know full well it will be a million times worse.
Look at this picture. Look at it! Taste the misery, the panic, the black despairing waves of helplessness, hate of the unfairness. Smell the fear, feel the gentle neverending throb of pain.
This image is so… full. Overflowing. You can drown in it. Sometimes the memory hits me, and I feel for a couple of seconds I may be drowning in a thick primordial custard of empathy, sympathy, sorrow and sad sad songs.
You can probably sense from my tone a degree of excitement about the photograph. You’d be absolutely right. It is excitingly dramatic. What a story this is! The hypernarrative of a football match in this instance floods with ease into a headfuck of emotional catastrophies. This trumps mumbled post-match interviews and sportswear endorsements with such spectacular vigourous vulgarity. Over The Top. Indeed. Gloriously so.
And look at the (accidental/chaotic/natural) composition of the photograph. My word! This could be one of the old masters. I absolutely LOVE! the way she is joined by two similarly distraught women, both protectively and/or desperately clinging – like Roldan herself – to her gorgeously strained pregnant bump.
There is something deeply sexy about the photograph. The team is dumbstruck, the nation mourns, the worldwide footballing culture purses its lips sorrowfully. But at the epicentre of pure fucked-upness is this poor beautiful woman – literally heaving with appetizing womanhood – screaming for the fallen (posthumous) hero, the father of her unborn child. I find myself desiring her on a quite profound level, a conceptual yet visceral plane. I am here, dear reader – all three of you! – hungry to snort the drama, lick the tears, stiffle the cries.
This could be a Renaissance oil, 12ft by 6 framed in opulent overkill of gold, capturing a pregnant Virgin Mary sobbing at the crucifixion… Obviously I’m playing a little here, but the point is, haphazardly unintentional as it may be, this is comparable to art (although probably not itself art – but that’s a massive discussion best avoided for now).
Only a real tragedy could do this so well… so camply… so tragically. It is more art than art. Therefore I raise my glass to the horror I sobbed with sympathetic sternfulness to only several paragraphs ago. A vulgar sledgehammer slams me in the face: once, twice.