Communication has always been as much about the means as the message. Think of the Gutenberg Bible, that particular font used. It is not only that heavy black font emphasising the gravitas of the content, but also the binding, the end boards, and further the size, thickness, weight, that is, the sheer heft of the artefact: all are part and parcel of the message.
Think of illuminated manuscripts, of how image and text embody one another in those capitals. In the margins we have all the possibilities of reading the cultural history of their period, as well as the presumed eternal un-period that the text was thought to encompass. This window into a period, and how all successive periods have continued to value the text both for the message and as an artefact in itself, tell us much about humanity.
And so if we were presented with artefacts relating to female versions of Christ, we instantly read here: belief as artefact; artefact as gendered; text as image of belief; image as dependent on, and independent of belief, text, and message.
The work consists a packet of two envelopes, each labelled in elaborate, heavy black script Texts, and Illuminations.
The Texts envelope consists of nine cards of text, of between six to eight lines each. All are in engineered text, that is, text that has undergone electronic reproduction. This, in turn, gives a sense of the impersonal, of a distanced text, that has presentation and deliberate structuring techniques written into it.
The texts combine many genres of material, call upon varied fields of knowledge; the fields are blended, juxtaposed, ‘sewn’. There are therefore cryptic, gnomic structures. And yet there is a through-line as well. The reader dips in and out of acquiescence with the through-line as he/she reads. We therefore sew together, as we interact, another take on the whole; we produce, in effect, an extra-dimensioned artefact.
The Illuminations envelope consists of eight acetates. Each contains collided images in beautifully rendered colours. These collided images consist in turn of contemporary footage of, say, architectural structures, and anatomical images; some of these are treated, others not. We have images from a wide variety of sources. There are many ways these collisions are structured, from seemingly straightforward juxtaposing of disparate images, through to overlaying. Each acetate is highly suggestive of interpretive reading, and yet at the same time resistant to such.
When we combine the more deliberative textual elements with the acetates we can arrange and rearrange as we will. Readings multiply, over-ride, undermine; they fire-up the creative aspect.
So what are the female versions of Christ? Why Christ? Why female? Why?
Our gendered concepts of Christ are first-world, Western, European, with origins in Middle-eastern tribal mores, and archaic institutionalised religions. In effect to focus on the figure of Christ is to zero-in on the very centre of Western mental attitudes, their horrible blunders, blindnesses, as well as the acme of human striving.
It could be said, therefore, that what this work is doing is suggesting ways of casting the fired-up creative aspect, in place of a corrupted ideal.