STATE OF DISAPPEARANCE CHANTAL MEZA & BRAD EVANS
SINCE THE BEGINNING
Since the Beginning… Life. Nasty. Short. Brutish. Survival. Nothing, but survival. Only the fittest. Fire. Wilderness. Kill the barbarians. They know only destruction. But what of nature? Beautiful. Deadly. The site of all betrayal. Where only wolves amongst men and seductresses reside. Lets tame those savage ecologies. Call it civilization. And later we will call it progress. Yet this comes at a price. Dispossession always does. But the watchpersons refuse to let memory be a victim of this history. How many, they ask, have already been forgotten? How many consigned into the dust of history? History tells us we remember only the brightest & the best. But whose version of history? What violence committed in the act of being remembered so that others can be so swiftly forgotten? Or is it the reverse? It doesn’t matter. Its all the same. That’s the real seduction. Apologists. Deniers. Those who know the burning of books has always taken many different forms. Still the memory of the earth tells a different story. Real histories, the real depths of human suffering, sites of disappearance, they were never shown on ordinance maps for power. True places never are. What's needed is a different image of this landscape. Hung like an animal carcass on the wall – documenting all the atrocities just like a fateful trophy to the impotence of man in the face of his mortality. SINCE THE BEGINNING tells us of this slaughterhouse we created for ourselves. A world where the blood seeps through the flesh of the earth, where the topography is brutally torn, where the black soil appears to remind us of the shadows cast by the black sun of the void.
OBSCURE BEASTS What is left to imagine when the body is absent? How can we return something of the human when its very presence is denied? What can be revealed about the monstrosity of annihilation? How can we aesthetically testify to suffering without glossing over the complexities of human loss? And how can we expose how the lines between perpetrators, victims and witnesses are blurred beyond all certainty? OSBSCURE BEASTS emerge through the violent traces torn into the flesh of the canvas and its mutilated landscapes of historical despair. They dance with raw realities of human misery and its unnecessary deaths. From a distance, the beasts take on many different shapes, though witnesses already project what is subconsciously embedded in their archives of hope and torment! Upon closer inspection the landscape itself is too close and yet still out of reach, confounding any attempt at forensic certainty. It is full of lines of miscommunication, which subtly revealing tortured bodies and disfigured forms, draw the viewer into the scene like some unwitting accomplice. The shame of being human takes hold. What could they alone have done to prevent this violence and devastation? They inevitably withdraw from the intimacy. The most brutal landscapes of devastation always prove easier to view than the murder of a single wretched soul by demons who look all too familiar and all too human in their brutalizing states. But there is more at stake here. The wounds existed long before the lines were made visible for all to now see and witness, again.
APPARITIONS Wretched ghosts of history haunt the landscapes of the present. But often we choose not to see their appearances. How we remain blind to the traces they leave as warnings from the past, erasing their memory through the violence of organized forgetting, remaining silent to their screams and turning away from the violence of their demonic performances. Yet such APPARITIONS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the guilty and the damned - refuse to leave us in peace. Their subtle and brutal lines still find a way to cut through the material surfaces of the earth, through the pages of every political declaration, inducing ephemeral states which burden the ethical spirit. They call to us on deserted streets, they cry out each time a gun is fired or a bomb explodes, they walk like an army of the condemned down every corridor of justice and peace. And yet their memory often serves to add more recruits to their ranks. They refuse to vanish, even though more lives are mercilessly destroyed in their names. That is the lesson they give to us. The certainty that nothing will prevail, especially when everything is possible. Virgil. Hamlet. They only saw what was plain to see by those armed with wretched eyes.
MIRRORS OF THE VOID
MIRRORS OF THE VOID Mirrors hang to reveal a landscape of human devastation. But these mirrors are not simply reflective. They have no concern for the passing viewers all too fleeting curiosities. They know they outlive us. Side by side, what they offer is a visual testimony to histories of persecution. Fixed into place, they immobilize us with their dark movements. Yet walking past, it is clear they don't exist for our purpose or aesthetic pleasure. They speak to themselves. Assuming the right to project their truth back to each other, back unto the world. Having already foreseen the extinction of all human life, they never required our narcissistic presence or self-centered validations. And they have no care at all whether humans need art. These mirrors ask whether art ever needed us? So it commences, as always, with a misplaced sense of elation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the violating optimism. Once again the masses are seduced by the spectacle and glory of power. Flight into the future presented as the only solution to the curse of the past. Progress, they say. Onward they march, with an intellectual army also marching in formation. History has a way of making such things appear inevitable, certain, foreclosed. Such is the grand sweep of this uncompromising force, which has the capacity to displace all that stands before it. How they learned to desire their own oppression. This is the force of nihilism and the violence of reactive minds. And so the lines begin to appear, yet already torn. Deeper and deeper, they cut into the canvas, revealing bodies caught in the unstoppable winds of a merciless storm. Yet still they project their ambition across planes of denial. Cutting into certainty, feeling their way into existence like a liberating force already cloaked in the blood of the innocent. There is no absolving the shameful destitution. This is always their intention, always their desecrating purpose. They carry life with them on their fated journey.
MIRRORS OF THE VOID But the majestic lines witnessed on their destructive flight soon turn into the most intimate voids of despair. Everybody is a victim. Everybody is complicit. Our attentions therefore shift onto another frame of reference and suffering. Into the abyss we now descend. The pain appears to us in the hopeless depths of subjugation, taking control over every aspect of human existence. That's why the void is a mirrored sight of anguish and madness. They who stare into the depths and see the Gorgon with his deep black eyes at the bottom of the icy pit look back with a monstrous vision. Inner demons thus return as wretched souls of prejudice and hate. Their intimate violence provides a new chapter in the brutalizing movements and flight of men. But it's a mistake to see them as victims born of the original scene. They were already there, waiting, alongside. This is why mirrors always double. Grandest historical claims are nothing without the intimate depths of passion and outrage. But there is no tale of redemption or salvation here. The white glare of optimism proved blinding to those who already witnessed too much, and yet still persisted as if nothing had happened. Absolution reigned supreme, until the end. They held their trials. They condemned as guilty many in their midst for the inhumanity they showed to fellow humans. But never did they see the mirrors for what they truly were. Maybe they didn't have the courage to see themselves truly ravaging the beauty of the world? And maybe they didn't want to see how they ultimately destroyed themselves and thus played out the most fateful of all the worldly tragedies? And so all that remained was for each soul to be captured in its nihilistic fall from grace, visibly caught up in the flight from meaning and forever lost in the depths of these mirrors of the voidâ&#x20AC;Ś
Artwork shown is on permanent display in Puebla Mexico. A second version of this work is currently in production.
FRAGMENTS OF A CATASTROPHE
FRAGMENTS OF A CATASTROPHE The Apocalypse already happened. When exactly was difficult to tell. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a singular event. Unlike biblical prophecy, there was no final day of judgement. No horsemen riding into town to avenge the unrighteous and non-believers. The apocalyptic was slain by the gospel of catastrophe. Its truth displaced by the logic of tragedies, which rained down without the possibility of redemption or eternal salvation. Nobody was exempt. Its destructions afforded no distinction. There were no innocents. Everybody was included. All notions of refuge proved an impossible luxury. The casualties were intellectual as well as physical. Hope was lost in the ability to transform the world for the better. The signs were already there. It was in the making for some considerable time. Early warnings appeared through the cracks in sites of abandonment and zones of crises. Violently it marched. Justice as War, so terrifyingly normal! Onwards and downwards, slowly the disasters became endemic. Catastrophic imaginaries colonized all before it. Everything became connected. Everything went South! Everybody learned wretchedness. Vulnerability became the default setting. We became survivors without survival, haunted by the violence of the past, while forced to face the specter of the next catastrophe, always there, in-waiting, on the horizon of possibility. Humanity fatally wounded long before its final generations walked the scorched earth. Anxiety was the only thing collectivized. Enriched lives that once basked in their own delusions of grandeur and progress, forced to live in open burrows of mechanical enslavement, which ultimately proved more effective in producing endless spectacles of violence. Fear spread like some uncontrollable virus. It was digitalized. But it was no less real. All that remained, it seemed, was to live-out the unfolding fate, together, alone.
FRAGMENTS OF A CATASTROPHE And so we have become the authors of our own pre-existing extinction. Who am I? The last anthropologist, left to survey and make sense of these ruins. How we can now look upon every Garden of Eden slowly disappearing as all color slowly bled from the earth. All we have left are these fragments, but pieced together they tell the story. It begins with nature. Back to the beginning, again. Beautiful. Poetic. But some, as already told, had already seen this as a savage beauty. And the final act of humanity will be recorded as a moment when it brought about its collective disappearance. This is not a speculative prophecy. The warning signs are already here. If only we could piece together the FRAGMENTS OF A CATASTROPHE, which is unfolding before our very eyes. Another child mercilessly lost in the waters, another women savagely pulled from the streets, another forest mercilessly burned along with all the forms of life it sustains, another act of abandonment, but a simple piece in a complex and fractured book whose pages are already scattered and overlaid.
COLLAPSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
COLLAPSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS Everything ends, like it began, in the mind. The last witness, after the annihilation, facing the final reckoning: that nobody was left to even deny the extinction of humanity. Nothing left to care or map out the disappearance of disappearance. That is the disappearance of humans, who have, in the final act, obliterated all other life forms. After-all, if man couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t survive, nothing should. So she stands alone, with nothing left except her thoughts. Venturing for one last time into the abyss where everything had been thrown, she sees how the depths of its denials were so monstrous even the most brutal tyrants were willing to be forgotten for fear of confronting the intolerable madness. If only she had the strength to conscientiously object. There is nothing to make sense of within this terrain. Surveying the ruins of her mental landscape of total devastation, alone she sees how everything meaningful has collapsed. Like Tiresias, she walks blinded, having lived every prophecy and having witnessed too much suffering. But she no longer has any need for sight. Even notions of past, present and future have been fully obliterated. Can she even call herself a survivor? Surely that would mean bearing witness? Yet how can you be a witness if there is nobody left to tell? And what would she say anyway? Even language has been eviscerated.
COLLAPSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS Once the courage to truth was denied, she knew every evil would be liberated and every sacred claim to purity mobilized in response. That was the real nihilism. And so, now an unwilling accomplice to her thoughts, she relives the final collapse of humanity - the collapse of consciousness itself. A terrorscape more horrifying than anything Dante every dared to conceive, where every single exhausted thought that appears without asking is subjected to a monstrous schizophrenic haunting and every claim she once held to life caught in the swirling vortex of mental torture without any possible hope to escape. To survive now means only to carry the shameful burden of humankind complete. At the ends of humanity, every mental coordinate is abandoned as this neurological assault â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the final frontier now also being denied, illustrates how the collective consciousness has also become a brutalized river of indistinction. The collapse of all resistance, the collapse of all memory, the collapse of all dreams, the collapse of her imagination. And yet still, she feels, feels that there is the glimmer of something. In the shadow at the dark side of consciousness something refuses to die, for nothing is more uncertain than the nothingness of the void. Nothing lasts forever, it seems, including nothing itself.
Work in Progress
Wo r k i n P r o g r e s s
Credits The artwork and narrative featured here is part of the wider state of disappearance project. For more details on this see: www.historiesofviolence.com The artworks of Chantal Meza can be found at: www.chantal-meza.com Further details on writings of Brad Evans at: www.brad-evans.co.uk
All images featured here are copyright of the artist Chantal Meza. All rights reserved. They can only be reproduced with express permission of the artist.