Sunday, September 7, 2008

WWLSD: What Would Luke Skywalker Do?

Raised in the vacuum of the midwest, the son of the children of Catholics on one side and Lutherans on the other, religious affilliation is a difficult thing for me to profess. I have some of the paperwork of a Catholic: I was Baptised and Eucharized, but never Confirmed. Not excommunicated, yet non-practicing, I'm still able to recite the prayers.
my Bible, 1983

Having been in elementary school during the early eighties, my deep psyche was imprinted with two stories simultaneously. Jesus, I learned, was a great man, perfect in action, thought and deed, sinless and forgiving and generous. Luke Skywalker, I witnessed on the screen, was a man of the same caliber, another saviour, strong and magic and righteous. Combining the two heros in my mind, I was able to maintain an ideal, to which I patterned my own life.
The two rolemodels both served me well, their separate endings representing two possible outcomes of being perfect and good. Luke, I assumed, brings the galaxy together forever after in a golden era; we all know what happened to Jesus.As an adult, I still follow these examples, reduced unconsciously to the fabled Golden Rule: "do onto others as you would have them do unto you." It works, believe me, but it's not easy.
One day, a few years ago, I found myself constructing an object.It was a religious object, meant to channel strength into my life as I struggled with being a new resident of NYC.The city is rough, and my outlook had been pummeled by blow after blow. Every time I thought I was going forward, I found myself further and further behind. It was frustrating and daunting, but not insurmountable.

Nailing Luke Skywalker to a cross seemed fitting at the time, symbolically interjecting a dose of reality into the rosy childhood beliefs I'd held that everything works out perfectly in the end for those who are honest and good.
The artworld of today is an empire, akin to what the Romans had built 2000 years ago, but with critiques instead of crucifixions. Artists who move to the city and think they will see the sky open and be drawn into a glowing beam of light from wealthy collectors learn quickly the truth.
Selling art is different from making art, much as being a good person is different from making money. At some point you've got to force the paths to cross if that's what you need. Forcing myself to stay in New York was important, because it's the temple of the artworld, and if I have to keep kneeling with my head bowed for a little longer, I can wait and pray. The pilgrimage has been grueling, but I maintain faith. The time for drinking wine and passing the basket can't be far ahead.

Our Father, who Art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name...
...Darth Vader?!?

1 comment:

Richard Womack said...

making the subject perform?!