How many classic voyages to the underworld speak of being stripped back to the bone until the Self dissolves? …And how many offer rebirth after deep humiliation in the company of loss and failure? Not all do – some just take you to the ninth level of the underworld, accompanied by a hairless dog, and leave you there to be finally extinguished.
Luminescence is my first solo exhibition in nine years. The work has slowly germinated in an underground space, wordlessly rooting in it and gradually pushing up through its layers. But that process can take forever - peace must be made with the soil which holds, surrounds and nourishes. There is no guarantee of breaking through into sunlight either - it depends which myth-template is active.
It could be the hairless dog.
And there can be no going back to ‘what was’ either:
How the Self struggles, trying so hard to catch its own fleeting shadows and stitch itself down, make itself firm, put flesh on its bones again and see itself formed!
Sometimes we are lucky – after a long time in this subterranean world, my eyes adjusted to the low light and a subtle luminescence. What felt like death opened into a different space. A slow glow was creeping up from behind all this time, until it was suddenly very bright.
One day, brilliant colour ran across my eyes
…it was bubbling up everywhere.
The theme of death and rebirth/resurrection recurs in the cosmology of diverse cultures, but it is not universal. The Mesoamerican stories are different, where the soul passes through many trials and tribulations aided by the Xoloitzcuintli dog, only to be finally stripped of ego/personality at the end and merge back into an undifferentiated world of spirit.