When I had journeyed half of our life’s way I found myself within a shadowed forest For I had lost the path that does not stray, (Dante’s Inferno, Canto 1, lines 1-3)
Immersed in a technological world, humanity today relies on digital and satellite technology, corporate media, and social networking as conduits to understanding the universe and its climatic fluctuations. Despite this wealth of knowledge, the actual facts relating to causes of environmental disasters are often ignored. People focus on short-term gratification, unwilling to make material sacrifices that will save the planet.
Beyond Absurd is an installation that looks at past and present communication set in the context of a world grappling with the disastrous effects of climate change. This mixed-media exhibition consists of drawings, light-box paintings, and ceramic and acrylic sculptures.
Beyond Absurd juxtaposes the historical with the contemporary. Depictions of Aztec deities representing natural occurrences like fecundity and birth, death and decay, or environmental forces, surround two antithetically opposed sculptural sites. On one site stands a series of human sacrificial, ceremonial altars, presenting one form of extreme but direct communication with the deities. At the other site sits a contemporary ‘glass’ house, empty and foreboding. Both the altars and the house appear to be deprived of human presence, but remnants of technological communication devices endure.
To a greater force, and to a better nature, you, free are Subject, and that creates the mind in you, which the heavens Have not in their charge. (Dante’s Purgatorio, Canto XVI, lines 79-81)
Therefore if the present world go astray, The cause is in you, in you it is to be sought. (Dante’s Purgatorio, Canto XVI, lines 82 - 83)
Despite our vast means of electronic communication, we humans are not willing to “listen to” our deteriorating environment. The Aztecs chose human sacrifice as a means of appeasing the gods. Despite an abundance of technological communication, we are moving towards sacrificing the earth. And unlike Dante’s divine pilgrimage to heaven, our journey is a path toward devastation.
This is truly absurd.
Installation at the Red Head Gallery, May 26 to June 19, 2010. ceramic, plexiglass, water based media, LED light boxes, mylar, sound component.
Dimensions variable. Photo documentation: Isaac Applebaum