Sunday, 4 December 2011

200words: mcelheny at whitechapel

“For now we see through a glass, darkly...” 1Corinthians 13:12a
McElheny gifts us with a kaleidoscopic remix of the end of history, a disbelieving backward glance through a shattered rear-view mirror. We, twenty-first century gallery goers, delight to piece together the glittery pluperfect remains of an abstracted past we don't even believe in?
“So either you can believe there is this thing called history, which is [...] a linear narrative with a definable thrust to it, or you could say that there's just a lot of different stories” Josiah McElheny, 2010
There is a lot of different stories. The safest story is the story of me, myself and my subjectivity: that on peering down the well of so-called history, we see only our reflected, storied selves staring back at us. The mirrors, which abound in this piece, reflect this notion of history while also conspiring to manifest a narcissist's rogues gallery?
“The more fearful this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.” Paul Klee, 1915
So, in a difficult world, as moths to a proverbial lamp, we cluster in galleries for the comfort of flickering globes and ambient sound, the therapy of an abstracted reality, for self-medicated hypnosis under the legitimating guise of high culture?
“..seeing one of these moths that have met their end in my house, I wonder what kind of fear and pain they feel while they are lost.” WG Sebald, Austerlitz p133
What images we do make out through the haze and fractures: the lightening strikes, lolloping storks, and corridors, are intriguing and beautiful, as glimpses into a hope deferred, a modernist's heartsickness, signs of a definable thrust? Dear ones, it's not too late to know, be known, and to be reconciled to our past.
“...but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1Corinthians 13:12b

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