Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Satin Sash And Velvet Elevation

I've been thinking about this song all day. The melody is full of whispers and suggestions that travel up my spine and out through my limbs, I feel it in my shoulders and the way my head should turn. This is my native language. I have spoken it well, lyrically, better than I have done anything else. I wonder now if I am an exile, abroad in a land where I will never speak it again. This is an idle thought, of no importance. My hands are full.

Jake and Dinos Chapman made an installation piece called Hell that was destroyed in a fire. With the help of some very generous benefactors, the artists recreated the piece, this time naming it Fucking Hell. The Guardian UK:
Fucking Hell - also on show at the White Cube gallery in central London - is nine glass cabinets arranged in a swastika formation with tens of thousands of miniature figures enduring awfulness on a grand scale. The original installation was lost in the east London fire which destroyed much of Charles Saatchi's stored art collection four years ago.

"You couldn't fail to see something funny about Hell being on fire," said Jake. Their first thought was: let's do it again. Jake said: "We wanted to rescue the work from the sentimentality that soon clothed the work after it burned, an affection for the work that wasn't there when it actually existed as an object, so the idea of a world without Hell was unacceptable to us.

"While everyone else was whingeing around kicking their legs in the air like overturned cockroaches, the first thing we said was we'd remake it". The Chapmans did not realise Hell was in the fire at first. "We thought it was in special storage for the stuff that he [Saatchi] really liked," joked Dinos.

Pictures don't do it justice, so watch the movie. Go ahead. It's really short.

In the course of considering Heaven and Hell, we are also considering the nature of a Supreme Being. I'm not sure there is one, but I do three stupid things before breakfast so what do I know? A lot of people are sure, and they're sure there's an afterlife that rewards good behavior and punishes bad. That's an awful lot to be certain about on some very iffy say-so, and these are just words. But art is a lens that blurs and focuses. Art is character study. As I watched the short movie, I thought: Hell itself is not the product of a loving theology. The minds that created it, as minds will when there is a gap in information, did not hope for the love or favor of their Supreme Being - or its mercy. No. All of that suffering, filthy and predestined, is just a bore. Imagine tormenting souls for ten minutes. Imagine an hour. Try to imagine a ceaselessness that you simply can't as a mortal being. Imagine the tedium of eternity. What the creators of the philosophical Hell feared more than anything was their Supreme Being's indifference. Given the many myriad possibilities of the human imagination, this is the poison pill: that there is no reason to care about any of us.

Of course, I am special. I hear the dance in music and sense the impatience of time.


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