My early work consisted of small incisions into the warp and woof of existence. I worked frequently with the notions of time-space. Many of my performance art pieces included conditional elements such as never, ever or until his death. In my current work, the issue of time has prevailed, albeit taking a different spin. As time has caught up with my body, my time theme moved from the issues of limitations and determinism to the realm of entropy and consequently to the notions of mortality, immortality, and celebrity. The symbiotic work I accomplish with the assistance of wildlife rests on one giant premise: I consider wild animals to be saints, for they don’t have the human capacity for sin. They don’t kill for pleasure or ideology and they have not been expelled from paradise.
My symbiotic work runs in parallel with the phenomenon of Europe’s Catacomb Saints, who were allegedly believed to have held divine properties. However, there is a fundamental difference; I fabricate my reliquaries in collaboration with black bears, fishers, martens, raccoons, coyotes, birds and insects. I claim that, at the present time, because of our human arrogance, almost all living animals are martyrs. I use the naturally destructive instincts of these living animal saints, turning them into celebrities by fabricating reliquaries in order to venerate their truly innocent sainthood. Is it a coincidence that the original Catacomb skeletons’ origins were obscure and the stories and names attributed to them were made up and …were totally arbitrary? Yet, that did not stop them from becoming celebrities once resurrected.
This opens up an entire new Pandora’s box of issues…like the current obsession and fascination of ordinary people with celebrities. I believe that…the average person intuitively feels that a celebrity is closer to GOD, closer to immortality. Here, our fear of death manifests itself in the most bizarre way… death became synonymous with anonymity. Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga have replaced St. Ignatius and St. Benedictus.
The exhibit “Oh Brother” is nothing but a sigh. It is about merciless time, time the merciful and time the equalizer. Time the merciful makes us forget about its mercilessness. As we forget, the immediate yesterdays become distant yesterdays, eventually turning into a mass of peripheral, gray river with no shores. Where is the year 1942, when my brother was born? Where is the year 2002, when he died. Even the loving mother, who gave birth to this baby, is no more. Her memories are lost forever. The picture of the baby brother of mine, our mother was so proud of, and… which I found by accident in a trash bin, has aged and is gradually vanishing. The 21,914 reproductions of it, that can be now observed in the exhibit are but a mercilessly merciful river of disappearing moments: each of them an anonymous day. After I expire, all of it will sink into deeper anonymity still. Eventually, the layers of forgetfulness will bury all we know. Time the equalizer will erase our memories. The world will forget.
Lumir Hladik, Toronto