Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sackcloth and Ashes

Beth Robinson is taking my Sackcloth and Ashes piece for a show at S.P.A.C.E. in Burlington for an exhibit near Halloween. She thinks it's scary, and it certainly is, for lots of reasons. I just sent her this statement and some images, and thought the rest of you would like to see them too.

Sackcloth and Ashes: A Garment for Our Times

This piece was made in 2004 for a Wearable Art show at SPA, and this is what I wrote about it at the time:

As far as we know, humans have always worn clothing. And the kind of clothing people wear has been an indicator of social status, occupation, gender, and even political affiliation.

Sackcloth and ashes was worn in the ancient world as a sign of remorse, repentance, and grief. This sculpture represents us – the Wealthy Western World – doing penance for our consumption of more than our reasonable share of the world’s resources. We are offering the poor 27 cents, the average daily income of a person in the Congo, Ethiopia, and Myanmar in 2003.

But since we are all really one, and there is no essential difference between an American and an Ethiopian, it also represents the person about whose plight we grieve. That person has only 27 cents in his or her bowl at the end of the day.

I often think about money, the state of the world, and our hoarding of material goods. As an artist, I wonder about the consumption of art works -- which are, after all, goods that are bought and sold. I wonder about the value of trading in art. I wonder what art is for. I wonder what will speak to our spirit and bring us to do what is necessary to heal our planet.

The cost of this sculpture, should anyone desire to own it, is $199.57 (cheap, like much of human and animal life is cheap), the average yearly income of a person in Burkina Faso or Rawanda in 2004.

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