2010-12-06

Hide/Seek: Too shocking for America | Art and design | The Guardian

Hide/Seek: Too shocking for America | Art and design | The Guardian

Sigh. The US-ians still seem to recall the pang of Puritan birth: the Ps were as bad as or worse than Platonic Republicans and could not reconcile the proper life to art. And though they did write poetry it was in the service of religious conviction, and plain efficiency over pretty rhetoric was the point. So now, 400 years later, that which seriously questions the logic of the relation between matter and spirit, flesh and soul--the matter of a lot of Christianity--is thorned

(NB: I'm an atheist and have difficulty recalling even what Christmas is about, let alone Easter and the rest. But I did study the religious history and narrative while in grad school, and in particular, the Puritans, though I am afraid I surely missed much. My apologies therefore if I needlessly offend.)

During the days of Serrano's Piss Christ, we saw similar misguidedness. But think: the point of human matter--why, according even to the Puritans, our soul is housed in an (imperfect) body (it has desires that deviate from the will of the soul) and not, like the angels, in no body (they're all soul, no body like ours, and unpossessed of desires that deviate from their soul's)--is that it is a body, filled with body's contents, including its wastes, desires, glories. And the Christ was of a body born and in a body lived. What then, is the relation of the body to the soul, in particular, His? I find Serrano's work quite brilliant, as I do much of the other stuff in the Smithsonian, for these raise really important questions about the body itself and its place in the narrative we call modern--in particular, in the US.

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