Thursday, September 30, 2010

mimesis nemesis

mimesis, the old Greek concept of copying. The thought was that art was mimesis, it copied nature. Art could invent nothing. Its an old debate.
But in the stream of what I am working on, its a reference to the copying or almost miming of stories and history which one tells in social interactions. I "copy and paste" stories into a conversation from my memory.
When one is faced with explaining about yourself... telling about who you are and not just peripheral framework regarding yourself... one is faced with the rather large question about how you portray who you are. Do you under state in the belief that the cultural system of the audience is able to process understatement? Or do you inflate and colour the story for effect, knowing that the listeners will desaturate the story as with most media they come into contact with. (one hopes!)
The way one loads meaning into or onto the verbal picture you create is so easy to miscalculate and change the true nature of the point you are making.
In this image, a billboard style picture of myself,I present myself as a face one would find on a sideshow advert. Its the well worn sign board that is put out to attract the curious to come and see the freak show, the bearded lady, the tattooed man, the lizard creature. I have a single rhino horn growing from my forehead. Rhinos are pretty dangerous and lack good eyesight, they tend to rush in horn first, ready to gore any shadow, more bluff than lethal intent.
Its also a reference to the famous self portrait of Albrecht Durer in which he presents himself as a sophisticated gentleman, his long hair in carefully painted ringlets.
The halo.... so many people unconsciously want the artist to be fired into creativity by the Furor Divinus...divine madness... as though its a fragment of greatness or a touchstone of magical power. This is my worn and damaged and rather tacky halo which is worn on ceremonial occasions only. Hoarknockle dragged it out of the vault for this performance. Specially.
The whole surface of the image will be degraded and aged and faded to make it look old and worn. Rather a has been billboard.
The surprise will lie in the center of the work...which is in fact two narrow doors that hinge in the middle of the piece.
On the narrow faces of the two edges that meet when the hinges are closed, will be painstakingly painted insects against a dark background... once again a reference to the concept of Vanitas...the insects taken from 17th Century still lifes.
But thats still not there...for now its the billboard..getting older by the minute.. paint peeling and flaking off.


  1. Ah, a rhino. For a moment I thought you had been half cuckolded. Seriously, very interesting and the open door is of course an old tradition in religious painting - the door being opened just on holy days.
    On the subject of insects, there are some lovely strange insects in a book called "Extreme insects" that just came out.

    In literature this worrying about how you present yourself or how others read you is part of narrative theory. It is most fascinating to see which discourses people use to tell their story. It is the central tenant of narrative therapy where the value of a story is judged to be in its denseness and complexity, not in its mimesis to some truth.

  2. hmmmm tenet or tenant?
    The open door in religious painting... nice...I'll pursue that.
    Two horns indicates cuckolding?... another idea I shall have to look up.
    The insect book is dreadfully tempting...hmmmm hmmmm hmmmm