A story (but where did I read it?) about two lamas sitting on two stones by the campfire one night. A lion roars and one of the lamas jumps up and the other one says, “Oh, so you still have that?”
The next morning the lama who jumped gets up early and paints the word “God” on a stone, sits on the other and waits. When the other lama comes out and hesitates to sit on the stone with GOD written on it, he says, “Oh, you still have that?”
Do I “still have that?” I think I must because the twisted, convoluted, intricate way that Meg Hitchcock cuts up one holy book to make another gets under my skin. Knowing where the words come from would not matter if she didn’t tell us, so why do they matter if she does? Why does “the word” matter so much that the Bible says it was the beginning?
I get impatient with artworks that the artist has put little time and thought into; why am I impatient with Hitchcock’s work where the thought and care are so apparent? No, it’s not impatience—it is a hyper-sympathetic awareness of their inexorable handmade perfection.
In “Gitmo: The Prisoners at Guantanomo Bay”, the prisoner’s names and internment security numbers are cut from the Koran and the Bible and arranged into a mandala. This is a very effective piece; the mandala is a visual prison and the prisoners are there because of their too rigid reading of the Koran. But I have a feeling that is not the effect that she means (and I do believe that Guantanamo should be closed and it’s an outrage that the inmates have not had fair trials.)
And because I “still have that” and being aware of the context, the pieces that suggest an open vagina; “Paradise”, “Blaze” and “Glory Hole” and then the closed vagina; “72 Virgins” strike me as vulgar and offensive. To whom? Why, the Virgin Mary that I don’t believe in, of course!
Am I anti the Muslim religion? Yes I am and anti the Jewish and Christian religions, too. And the Buddhists are tiresome. They are all a bunch of self-righteous intolerant bigots, piling their religious beliefs on top of their ethnic identities to exclude others. Except when they aren’t and are loving and generous human beings that find comfort in believing.
My intolerance is well justified and I learned it at the knees of my Jewish and Catholic relatives.
And these are just a few of the thoughts I had at Meg Hitchcock’s engaging and stimulating show. – CNQ
And please do visit her website to see good photographs of her work: