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Babylon

KORESPONDENCIA/KORRESPONDENZ
KORRESPONDENZ/KORESPONDENCIA

in KUBUS Hannover, Theodor-Lessing-Platz 2, 30159 Hannover
21. November bis 19. Dezember 1999

An Artist`s Guide to the Exhibition
 by
Nigel Packham .

Italics refer directly to exhibits.

 Babylon is calling her children back again, all of us, not forgetting the animals. The multi-cultural society calls for the reintegration of human diversity, not a reduction to a norm, nor a bullying into blank conformity, but a way to combine all the advantages and the profit from the lessons learnt by all the different cultural roads that have been tried by the human race since Babel.

Let us consider the notion of an exclusive paradise, that is the idea that "some don`t make it." The vision of Jehovah`s Witnesses sitting in Heaven after Armageddon, savouring the fact that all those who never bought the `Watch-tower` are now being tortured in Hell. What sort of Heaven is that? But isn`t it rather similar  when we say," If only X weren`t there, then everything would be okay, or if only they would behave differently, then everything would be okay"?

At the Last Judgement we all go in together or not at all.

Perhaps it`s time to start building that tower to God again, but together this time, even if we don`t speak the same language. Every individual attempt results in an Icarus plunge; this I can report from experience.

Such a task demands new qualities of us, the ability to see things from another angle, the capability to re-combine ideas and priorities, to reappraise values.

Ideal of individual happiness = an American boy who owns a horse.

Andy Warhol`s flower-printing Factory practised collective art i.e. with collaborators, music making, and social openess, until somebody walked in and shot him.

Jackson Pollock`s drips combine all colours without excluding any ideas.

Did you know the vacuum cleaner has phallic associations? Think of the action, not the appearance.

Seen together, sewn together. Without connections, or a vision of the whole, we are just bits and pieces in a cold, harsh world.

Consider the wealth of cultures, of languages, each with its own particular slant on the human condition. What wonders could result from a successful, peaceable, warm reintergration of all these after they have all suffered and flowered in separation. One must think of the tantric warp and weave of the fabric of the Universe.

Do men marry to cut out the competition? Ha HA.

Combinations like wood and iron. How often do we see that in the real world, resonating, corresponding?

Did you know, the Poles are the Irish of Europe ? Guess where I originate. Spot the preconceptions. Antoni said "Britain is a polish village." I like their humour.

Why the choice of the name Babylon as a symbol for an idealistic goal, you may ask? The choice of a city is important, as towns and cities are the basis of civilization as we know it, indeed, I believe ours is more in the Mesopotanian tradition than most people will admit, we are so warlike (empire builders).

The alternatives: Jerusalem is nearly a cliché, and a current international trouble-spot, (sorry, William Blake: "And was Babylon builded here,....!"); The City on the Hill of the Pilgrim Fathers, is too anonymous and failed because its founders believed in individual salvation despite communal farming etc., and besides we must build our own hill (tower ), or not? One asks oneself why they didn`t invent some compromise system of dividing up the landscape, perhaps on Korespondencia lines ? Babylon is a bubbling metropolis of encounters, but the automobile transforms every city into a mere (tarmacked-over) area of settlement with the stress on the isolation of the individuals (tin boxes on wheels = take your isolation with you whereever you go). The great whore of Babylon comes to mind by all right-minded people, although Rome was originally meant by this, let us accept her as a positive symbol for a more sensual and warm society with support for Nature within us, especially as we have probably left the solid ground and security of Nature behind us and are already standing on a tower of cultural achievement, in danger of having only a 2-bit, digitalised, compartmentalised conception of her.

 All `Kun5tam5onntag` CopyArt fans will be pleased to hear that the Bible is a great CopyArt work, as it was repeatly copied, by hand, with constant alterations, corrections, blemishes and other technical errors, going through the hands of many people, before being finally pieced together as we know it. It was first written down, the Torah, that is, yes, you`ve guessed it: in Babylon. Another reason for choosing the name Babylon is our love of overdimensional projects like the space programme, which is already a reverse-Babel undertaking of international co-operation.

 In an age when individualisation has reached such absurd proportions that everybody thinks, "I`ll buy a car then I can go where I want", without realising that when everybody thinks and does the same (in the name of individualisation!), the result is blocked roads (at least, in countries of our population density), it`s about time for a rethink, rewind, return(?). How many people these days can see, or feel, the big picture, who perceive themselves to be part of a whole, connected to the others by common ground and aspirations? The very idea that one can have advantage through somebody else`s disadvantage is a fundamental error, mutual advantage is the only way forward.

 Of course all talk of Utopian aims brings up the Big Ugly Question of money and private property. For simple minds like mine, it`s obvious that everything belongs to God and we are to look after it (Adam was a gardener), but maybe I`m naive.

 Maybe all true cultural progress, in the sense of an internal change at individual level resulting in social change externally, can only follow at snail`s pace, and maybe we need to substitute ancient cyclic thinking for our blind faith in straight, lineal `progress`. If you observe the sky, time is cyclic. We are of the same stuff as the stars, all of us.

Italics refer directly to exhibits.
This article first appeared in Kun5tam5onntag studio copy art magazine, Korrespondenz/Korespondencia edition
. 1999

Later pictures relevant to this text