"En chemin, l'empreinte de l'autre...".
This quote proved to be a little enigmatic for me as I read the English version of Simone Weil's book L'Enracinement ( the Need For Roots in English) and I was unable to contextualise it within the translation. However as I read the book (and reread it) I found myself nodding and sometimes aghast at the unfolding of events in the present day bearing such similarity to that of which Simone Weil wrote in her last days in 1943. However I do not intend to delve into a political treatise. The quote seems to me to be more personally directed- the way forward, and if I am to be active in the way forward it requires me to examine my conscience and ultimately my beliefs, it is also in the end slightly optimistic.
I believe that for us to find solutions requires the input of all humanity, not just disparate tribes of humans- we are all human, our DNA attests to this, and as such we need to keep in mind at all times other humans, living wherever they do and believing whatever they believe. In writing of the needs of France to rediscover itself in the darkest hours of World War II, Simone Weil saw as indispensable the need for “a passionate interest in human beings, whoever they may be, and in their minds and souls: the ability to place oneself in their position and to recognize by signs thoughts which go unexpressed: a certain intuitive sense of history in process of being enacted; and the faculty of expressing in writing delicate shades of meaning and complex relationships” ( p197 The Need for Roots)
This belief of Weil's came out of her belief in God- and this God ,though essentially Christian was not of any particular nuance,rather a belief in one God- one who was ultimately the barometer of our obligations to our fellow human beings. Because without such belief ( and she did not really differentiate between religions as such ) there was a failure of ethics and morality. In this regard she expounded obligations that she felt were above this world and therefore in the sphere of godliness or eternity. She also felt that obligations were binding on humans individually and not to collectivities, such as countries, tribes etc, though there was a role for such collectivities. She saw these obligations existing towards every human being by the fact that they were a human being. She saw the obligation as eternal ( and therefore wound into her belief in God) and unconditional. She found evidence for it everywhere. She saw the eternal obligation towards the human being to not let him suffer from hunger when one has the chance to come to that human being's assistance- she identified these as vital needs which could be physical and moral which in turn raised issues of respect in collectivities.
But how to encapsulate this in an art work? There is no doubt that Simone Weil appreciated that art had the ability to “move” She said :“ The contemplation of veritable works of art, and much more still that of the beauty of the world, and again much more that of the unrealized good to which we aspire, can sustain us in our efforts to think continually about the human order which should be the subject uppermost in our minds.”( p11)
Last year I visited Padua and encountered the idea of an army of angels- there was a whole room in the Museo Civico di Padova devoted to angels and armies of angels. That thought intrigued me. Angels are the messengers in many different religions/cultures from the eternal or God, the idea that an army of angels might be sent had many implications for me. If angels are the emissaries from the eternal or God ,who from time to time to bring revelations or admonitions, then to send and army must be serious indeed. And so the angel image kept on reappearing as I read Simone Weil who in a sense was a kind of angel as well with her insight and belief in human good.
I also like to print and the mechanism of print making can leave a shadow , particularly when printing on fabric- a shadow of another print- or the “other” and therefore all the human beings to whom I am connected . My obligations to my fellow human beings is to ensure that they do not starve ,as too many do, and that they have a place in which not to starve, unbound by arbitrary borders. In contemplating the current state of the world- , it's inconsistencies and its failings, which is derived from human action and greed rather than an attention to the eternal, I feel there is a need at present for an army of angels to remind us of our obligations to each and every other human being. And so I have created this installation of angels, because our obligation is to our fellow human beings, not to nations and artificial boundaries or political motives, but to ensuring that every child woman and man does not starve- that is our eternal obligation and the angels are here to remind us of this and to remind me of what my obligations are.
I had hoped to make 100 stitched angels- thereby indelibly imprinting my hands and head with my obligation, but I ran out of time ( too many things happening and not enough time) so I reached the number 70 and in the end it was just as well I did not make 100 because only 70 would fit exactly on the backboard to which I stuck them- I had envisaged them hanging free- but did not like how they looked. So here they are Tweets from Heaven an army of angels!
And some of my other work- the two new Medieval Tree pieces and various other pieces from last year and the years before.
And last but not least- had to include a Babbling Banksia- for they for me are also a symbol of all the human beings in the world- a little bit of Australia in ChArtres. There is information on the event - just click here.
There is still time to enroll for the Travellers' Blanket online class which starts on April 3- there is information on my previous blog post and also a Paypal button ( which has now been fixed)