The Great Divide



In February 2003, Colin Powell appeared before the UN to prove the urgency to engage a war with Iraq. The shutters of the watching worlds eyes clicked to document and broadcast the events, the stage was set, the lines delivered. Behind the gathered orators a screen had been erected, a purposeful contrivance to the day’s events; this barrier, as some suggest, may have been a prerequisite of modern broadcasting techniques, a blank canvas to enable ultimate tonal quality to modern media representation, a device that would not detract from the events but enhance the quality of delivery, a screen-and we live in a world of screens.

Behind the barrier hangs a tapestry, a woven collection of signs and symbols, imagery directly linked to the events and dialogue unfolding centre stage; every fibre, piece of silk, of the tapestry is alive with the process of man and broadcasts the process of man. But it is hidden because of this, it does not promote favourably the zenith of morality and ethics-the supposed rationale-of those gathered in front of it, instead it broadcasts the hidden agendas and immorality of the event(s) it depicts and of those unfolding a few metres away.

The woven framework, made of thousands of interwoven yarns-tales silently told and connected-was chosen as a symbol of unification, hope and peace; it is a replica of a painting that was produced nearly eight decades previous, this painting-although named after a particular place and event-pays homage not only to these, its discourse is both historical and modern. It discusses the ongoing process of cultural hegemony as uttered by Gramsci, as dissected and reconstituted by Althusier and many others; the imagery promotes peace and hope on landscapes and frameworks that will not allow these to exist, and so it was hidden behind a screen.

On a spring morning, the artist delivered the final touches to the broadcast, the plank groaned under his weight, as he shifted and moved along  it to reach the heights from where the modern light met the natural; the assembled work, made from layers of strokes of chosen pigment-as layered as the timescale the image denoted-whose tone(s) depicted the process of delivery, dark to light to dark, monotone as the images that brought news of the initial event to the artist-in newspaper photographs and well-chosen words.

The painted assemblage became ‘Guernica’ in name, however what is in a name? Assembled and broadcast it delivered the time old discourse of enforced culture. As the assembled in the UN listened and broadcast what was unfolding; the threnody of ‘Guernica’ lay hidden, screened and apparently muted by the ‘new light’.

I began my tenure at ST. Mary’s in November 2014 with a simple assemblage- ‘the economy of line’– for the ‘period of remembrance’; pieces of paper-till rolls-forming silent line work, no visual imagery just new boundaries within and on traditional and ancient ones; during the time the work was in situ I presented it to various local dignitaries, explaining the rationale and context behind the work. In conversation with the Lady Mayoress and local councillors I proffered the importance of remembering not only those who had been lost due to cultural hegemony-which war is-but also the process of man which is always the root of such events.

I continued these ‘conversations’ in a physical sense in October 2016 with ‘the begging door’; again using architectural existence and facets of the loci as a starting point/canvas to assemble ideas and encourage discourse; the door or doorway being a very man-made manifestation of the process of man, being both inclusive and exclusive, an opening and a closure.

Within the framework of the door I assembled layers of signs and symbols, representations of human interaction and communication, pockets of silence and perhaps pockets of resistance; the rationale that underpinned this work was examination and extrapolation of the ‘process of human/assemblage’ and how this is perceived and received, understood and delivered, how it is screened for viewing and screened for hiding.

This process of examination closely following the process of man, from archaic through to the modern; the cultural hegemony that was delivered to ‘Guernica’ in 1937 came almost silently save for the whirl of mechanical blades, however it was underpinned by a full process of cultural alignment-one rebellion facing another, the mechanised apparently dominant.

We see this enforced daily around the world, from whistling sky fall bombs to almost silent drones to the almost now archaic hand delivered bullet; but in our own society hegemony has become a more subtle battle, insidious and creeping. Whatever the heading might be ‘cultural hegemony’, ‘ISA’s or ‘Neo-Liberalism’ the driving force and major dynamic behind the heading is economics-and this has always been the way.

In November 2016 I silently delivered a proposal to assembled notaries after the remembrance service; the proposal ‘begged’ for help and support, accreditation and consideration-but not money! The proposal offered the opportunity to connect individuals and groups from one region/community with those from another, a wholly positive endeavour based on parity, citizenship, peace, hope and love; in essence the proposal was to produce and deliver a gift.

I waited patiently giving due consideration to the busy lives of the dignitaries whose help I had ‘begged’ for; the months past-advent came and went, ‘the begging door’ remained closed, a screened barrier, no reply came from any quarter. Whether lost in translation, mislaid in office, ignored as naïve and innocent or disregarded as worthless, the proposal and its potential cannot have been received in the manner it was delivered or perhaps the hegemony of the time and what is soon coming engulfed the concept- the proposal was and, due to determined effort and belief, is ‘A Gift for Guernica’.


the great divide

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