The Engine House, Castletown
Isle of Man Art Festival 2019
HOLY COW – One of the greatest exemplars of human nature can be found in our relationship with cows. Domesticated an estimated 10,500 years ago from wild ox in the near east, cows have been our constant companions and, in many cases, our most valuable resource. Because of their symbiotic relationship with us, they have been an object of both divine adulation and unspeakable cruelty; the latter is particularly true of their treatment in the industrialized world. What they once gave freely, we now take with ruthless mechanisation. It is tempting to think that abstaining from beef and dairy will exculpate us; but if we wish to wash the blood from our hands we would also have to do away with our current forms of dyes, ink, adhesives, plastics, pet food, plant food, shampoo, conditioner, wallpaper, plywood, refined sugar, charcoal, glass, air filters, brushes, insulation, chewing gum, candles, detergents, fabric softener, deodorant, shaving cream, perfume, crayons, paint, biodiesel, cement, ceramics, chalk, explosives, anti-freeze, instrument strings and more.
The Second Coming of Mao
THE SECOND COMING OF MAO – “Freud would say that rather than liberation from patriarchy, third wave feminism is essentially replacing the authority of the “father” with the authority of state and with what Lacan would call the “Big Other”…Or an unseen super-ego type construction that metaphorically peers over everyone’s shoulder and enforces self-censorship out of fear of being sanctioned by the big other.”
Henri St. Meursault
MAN DOWN – The concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ refers to cultural masculine norms that are considered harmful to society- i.e. dominance, self-reliance and competition.
There is a move towards dismantling these masculine norms, especially in the socialisation of young boys. If this process is taken too far, the results will likely be disastrous. For, not only are these masculine norms responsible for the physical infrastructure of the modern world, they also happen to be (if the popularity of ‘50 Shades’ is anything to go by) the most sexually attractive traits in men.
The Lonely Seether
THE LONELY SEETHER – one of the gravest consequences of modern life is the sense of alienation and loneliness it fosters in people. It is typical to view people in such a state as essentially harmless; when, in truth, some are seething with rage. If their rage becomes pathological and fuelled by nihilism and a hatred of being, the consequences can be catastrophic, not only for themselves, but for all those around them.
BAKED – It is a revealing commentary on the reality of modern living that suburban mothers are one of the fastest growing groups of prescription drug abusers. Opiates, benzodiazepines and amphetamines are abused in an attempt to ease pain, reduce anxiety and increase energy respectively.
TATEMAE – [Japanese ‘built in front’, ‘facade’] the face one shows to the world, as opposed to Honne [‘true sound’] a person’s true self, feelings and desires. With the proliferation of social media, people in the West are fast developing a Honne & Tatemae dichotomy of the self. Even more alarming, many identify with their Tatemae (in this case, their online persona) to such an extent that their Honne (true self) becomes subsumed within it and is all but lost. This will likely have disastrous psychological consequences as people age and can no longer maintain the Tatemae they have constructed for all the world to see.
HIVE – for a creative idea to flourish, there needs to be combination of internal nurturing and external pollination. When the balance is just right and an idea is both protected and sufficiently fed, there is a good chance it will become a reality.
SELFIE – there is a tendency these days to over-identify with our face (especially with the advent of selfies), as though the face is synonymous with the self. This isn’t so bad when we are young and beautiful, but it can cause great distress (and in extreme cases, profound psychological disturbance) when our face changes as we age. The answer is less about changing our face (which, though possible these days, has a macabre aspect to it), and more about realising true beauty resides in the inner self; which, when healthy and balanced, transcends one’s outward appearance, no mater how altered by time.
NUMEN – from the Latin to ‘nod’ …used in Ancient Rome to describe the spiritual force in inanimate objects, places or awe inspiring phenomena. Such places were thought to contain divine power or will, defined by its ability to consent (or nod). In our industrialised and technological world (esp. in cities) we are no longer surrounded by numen (or have lost our ability to perceive it), which is, in part, responsible for our deep sense of alienation.
According to Jung, THE SHADOW consists of those aspects of the self the ego finds painful or shaming and, therefore, does not want to be associated with. Most people have no conscious awareness of what is lurking in their shadow, and often project its contents on to other people. If you are curious as to what might be lurking in your shadow? A sure sign is, those traits you find intolerable in others.
PARAMOUR – Old French ‘par amor’ – meaning, ‘for the sake of love’. Paramour is an old termed used to describe ‘a lover’ – typically an illicit lover of a married person. It used to be, as the name suggests, that one would engage in an illicit affair for the sake of love. Marriage, on the other hand, was a contractual, socially advantageous relationship, wherein sexual relations was for the purpose of procreation. One was not expected to ‘love’ one’s marriage partner, in the romantic sense; such feelings were reserved for one’s paramour.
This is one of the biggest social changes to have occurred since the Romantic era towards the end of 18th century. One is now expected to passionately love one’s marriage partner, and to marry ‘for the sake of love’. Extramarital affairs, on the other hand, are typically described (when one gets caught) as meaningless, purely sexual ‘mistakes’.
What does the imagery in this collage mean? I have absolutely no idea!
Inventing the Self
INVENTING THE SELF – invent, from the Latin ‘invenire’ meaning to ‘find’ (viz. to find by seeking).