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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Engaging with religious approaches to grief and loss

Exhibitions at Glasgow International 2018 and by Art Angel engage with religious approaches to grief and loss:

'For his solo exhibition at Tramway, Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey has taken as his starting point an 18th Century wooden figurine of Job held at the Wellcome Collection in London. Leckey has enlarged the object to human scale. This single forsaken biblical figure occupies alone the vast space of Tramway.

The title ‘Nobodaddy’ is taken from the poem by William Blake, a name that for Blake is a play on the idea of God the father of no one, but also the man with no body. In Leckey’s sculpture this body is expanded and infiltrated by technology. Man’s limbs are hollowed out, the organs removed, and filled with speakers that give voice to his state. Opposite the sculpture a large video projection mirrors the figure as it is toggles through different scenarios.'

Laura Cumming writes: 'Based on a German carving, Mark Leckey’s statue is larger than life and fully as profound with its sorrowful face and putrefying sores. A poor soul lost in suffering, almost, he sits alone in his melancholy contemplation, head in hand like Rodin’s Thinker.

But what he’s thinking is voiced in the air. The statue speaks, words emitting from its wounds and also from a screen in which the motionless Job is given some kind of life through a flux of shifting light and scenario. Time passes, place changes, the days speed and slow; and still the prophet endures. He talks of his plagues, ancient and modern (the camera enters the figure, an endoscopy of hollowed tracts), bewildered by their harshness; and yet there is still hope: he dreams of swimming, and even of flying.

The lament is powerfully moving, not least because the Turner prize-winning artist sets up a tension between the virtual and the real. The screen, with all its brilliant CGI effects, is restlessly compelling, and yet one is drawn loyally back to the poor simple statue. It is a gripping standoff between old and new technologies, in which the biblical agonies of Job, thousands of years ago, are made devastatingly present and timeless.'

Taryn Simon's first major performance work An Occupation of Loss takes place in a subterranean location in Central London. 'Each night, professional mourners simultaneously broadcast their lamentations, enacting rituals of grief from around the world.'

'Their sonic mourning is performed in recitations that include northern Albanian laments, which seek to excavate “uncried words”; Venezuelan laments, which safeguard the soul’s passage to the Milky Way; Greek Epirotic laments, which bind the story of a life with its afterlife; and Yezidi laments, which map a topography of displacement and exile.'

Adrian Searle writes: 'Alone, in couples and in trios and quartets, these singers and musicians – Armenian Yazidis, Cambodian performers of Kantaomming, Ghanaian women wailing and crying, performers of Greek polyphonic panegyri – are singing for those who are not here ... Their indifference to us despite our proximity is disturbing, as one is led by sound from one group to another, from culture to culture, language to language, ritual to ritual. Sometimes I feel like I am intruding on a stranger’s grief. At other moments transfixed and bewildered, like a lost anthropologist, a rubber-necker, a ghoul. Do I think about my own losses, the dead I didn’t mourn, my insufficiency of tears, my failed gravitas?

For all the polyphonies and cultural differences, there is an overall measure to the forms and sounds of lamentation, a register of sorrow that appears to cross times and places, religions and beliefs. What they mostly have in common, apart from a display of outward mourning and loss, is a sense of paying witness, and of being alive among the dead.'


John Prine & Nanci Griffith - The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness.

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