Unreal Nature

April 17, 2018

HEAVEN

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:51 am

… Both create territories where the dispossessed can enact their desires, making the appearance of the sublime become compensatory.

This is from the introductory essay ‘HEAVEN in the Tate Gallery Liverpool’ by Lewis Biggs found in HEAVEN (1999):

Heaven is not built on cloud nine, but on the firmer foundations of suffering. Oscar Wilde acknowledges that if life were perfect we would have no need of art (or the heaven promised by religious faith). The consolation of art, like that of religious faith, is to bring us some of the certainty that life denies us. This is an exhibition to break our hearts because Heaven is by definition elsewhere: the image of perfection returns us to our state of imperfection.

Religion has not disappeared, as Wilde thought it would, in the wake of Darwin and Renan. People visit art galleries with a hunger for experience, a thirst for refreshment, a desire to get a perspective on “real life,” that is far more than idle curiosity. The religious impulse, and certainly the artistic impulse, seem to be finding ever less celestial and more mundane objects.

[line break added] The multiplication of the objects of our faith is the mirror image of our diversification as individuals. As the essays in this publication say in so many ways, to be human is to be idolatrous, and in the century of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys none of us can escape the possibility that he or she is an artist.

… The engagement we bring to the image (dialogue, contemplation, meditation, prayer, devotion) is the process through which we release from the image and gain for ourselves our reward: renewal, consolation, insight, rejuvenation, a sense of self purified in the fire of emotion.

Next is from Doreet Levitte Harten‘s essay ‘Creating HEAVEN’:

… There are then two ways of building Jerusalem, either by being committed to the abstract or by pledging the fantastic, and in a world which lives by the truth of its simulation, that is by abstracting reality and virtualising it until the map stands for the territory, there seems to be no reason to re-abstract the abstracted, for it would be an act without logic. It is here that artists, by being compelled to point out the opposites arrive at new ways of showing the sublime.

Because art has become a religious phenomenon, artists do not even have to pursue such questions as to whether belief is a structure or a content, nor do they have to substitute in the name of a Grand Narrative, religious epiphanies with humanistic issues, or recognize religion as a paradigmatic error. Art as religion is the program of the dispossessed. Both give room for desire to be manifested through an admire-admired relationship. Both create territories where the dispossessed can enact their desires, making the appearance of the sublime become compensatory.

-Julie

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