2012 was supposed to be our end time and yet, we are still here!
‘Kingdom Come’ was the title of this year’s National Exhibition at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Artists were invited to explore the theme of apocalypse, personal or universal.
Interestingly apocalypse ‘translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, hidden from humanity in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception’. (wikipedia)
This quote intrigued me. And I decided to direct my approach from this point of view, asking the question ‘what is this contemporary society that is obscuring us from truth/knowledge?’
I spent an inordinate amount of time analyzing the systems or constructs that are fabricated by our society and continue this reality. The list includes education system, legal system, manufacturing, consumerism, celebrations, marriage, fashion, religion etc etc. The idea was that by identifying all these insidious systems that seem to define how we live, we have an opportunity to choose something else and possibly glimpse the elusive truth/knowledge that has been ‘veiled’.
After identifying, I hope the majority of these systems; I then chose objects to represent as many systems as possible. For example a passport can represent travel, vacations, government, countries, borders, identity and immigration issues.
This was all well and good, but what was missing? The gaping omission was a representation of humans. Humans who are so complex and contradictory, creative and destructive- humans who devise all these schemes and constructs that have endured for many years beyond any one person’s lifespan – humans, who are essentially frail and mortal.
Included in the portraits (photographs photocopied onto tracing paper) stitched onto the flimsy paper are splatters of colours, quotes about life, objects from nature, fabric, plastic, lists of opposing human traits, menstrual blood and semen.
The piece is called Anthropology 2012 Human, System, Object.
My view of the world 2012, an ersatz scientific deconstruction. A present day analysis of contemporary society.
The objects in plaster blocks are intended to emphasize the idea that this civilization will one day also perish and this perspective, this society, is mutable and may be looked at by future generations in a museum like broken fragments of bricks we look at nowadays from past civilisations.
The piece as a triptych displays paradoxical elements of order / chaos, monochrome / colour; the full range of opposing human traits; The sense of how much more enduring objects are compared to humans. How much we are systemized, and yet ‘human’ is beyond ordering.
Also in a time when simplicity is elegance, the complexity of the piece can be confusing or disturbing. I believe that simplicity comes from a long journey through complexity. I wanted to embrace the totality of the complexity of this reality and the only simplicity I offer is the pseudo systemizing and the reduction to three elements of reality- Human, System and Object.
Complexity is our nature and our reality, simplicity is presumably the goal, but this journey cannot be short cut if essential truth is to be revealed. Somehow we have to look very directly at the choices and life we have created in order to see the patterns and essence of simplicity.
Creating this piece challeneged my ideas of complexity / simplicity and more fundamentally my analysis brought me to the surprising conclusion that humans are extraordinary! Our ability to be ingenius is startling and awe inspiring. Although the piece is ambiguous in tone, for me, I felt absolutely inspired to be human and delighted about the future possibilities we may choose!
At the opening in Nassau I was introduced to a man who was so moved by the piece he wanted to meet me. The piece is deliberately dry, so I was surprised. It turns out he is the brother of an old friend (Tori) included in the portraits, and he was moved because I had also included a friend who has since passed. Freddie.
Freddie had lived with my family for a few weeks and during that time I had interviewed him and taken photographs to include in a portrait series. It was a difficult decision whether to include the picture of Freddie. Freeport is still shoked by his death. However, I felt that it was important to include him, to keep him part of our small commmunity. He is still a part of us all.