Mike Parr
THE UNDER­WORLD

1st June – 2nd July 2005
Anna Schwartz Gallery

.….…Brief notes on the works. The show quite del­i­cate­ly reca­pit­u­lates a sort of theme so there is a clear reci­procity between pieces though each of the three works is com­plete in itself.

Mur­der with­out adjec­tives is the lat­est stage of the work that was inau­gu­rat­ed by We are all mono­chromes now. Each of the 27 pho­tographs has been altered by Pho­to­shop, which I’ve delib­er­ate­ly deployed in the crud­est, most direct way. Installed on the wall accord­ing to the punc­tu­at­ed inter­vals of Barthes’ text, they per­form a visu­al chore­og­ra­phy. Some images fold back on them­selves, some are trun­cat­ed, some exhib­it holes, oth­ers bulge, parts of coats are repeat­ed and dis­placed etc but all these dis­tor­tions are relat­ed to the dead­pan plain­ness of the coats and the left sleeve tucked in the pock­et. They per­form and mock iden­ti­ty as appear­ance. This is a polit­i­cal work”. I con­tin­ue to try and talk about the Deten­tion Cen­ters. Num­bers, blank­ness, bureau­crat­ic anonymi­ty, des­per­ate peo­ple denied embrac­ing adjec­tives. Mur­der with­out adjec­tives then is a ric­tus of spec­i­fi­ca­tion, process and pro­cess­ing. It par­o­dies the idea of expres­sion” and the coats per­form a kind of null & void.

The Under­world is based on the Orpheus/​Eurydice sto­ry. Lead­ing his wife out of Hades, Orpheus can’t resist the urge to look back and Eury­dice is lost for­ev­er. This is also the sto­ry of asy­lum seek­ers and Barthes’ con­cep­tion of pho­to­graph­ic effect. Pho­tog­ra­phy is invari­ably a look­ing back. The para­dox of remem­ber­ing which recre­ates loss anew. It is exact­ly this absence that ani­mates the blank noth­ing­ness of the coats… their absence of effect”, incar­cer­a­tion in the desert, the irre­triev­able loss of a world, our numb­ness as a culture.

The Col­lege of Car­di­nals is my life size por­trait in which I offer the view­er my own head as a kind of prim­i­tive gift”. This sug­gests Orpheus & Eury­dice’s agglu­ti­na­tion as images in the pool of Nar­cis­sus. I also had in mind Car­di­nal Ratzinger’s ele­va­tion to the Papa­cy as pro­fane Res­ur­rec­tion”… as the Gnos­tic ver­sion of Christ’s promise of return… his ear­ly form of pho­to­graph­ic sta­sis! This is the self por­trait as grim joke, as the embod­i­ment of the noth­ing­ness of the pho­to­graph­ic image, but it makes punc­tum” talk to the gap between the oth­er two works.”

Mike Parr, 2005

Images

Mike Parr

Mur­der with­out adjectives, 2005
Dig­i­tal prints
27 parts, 9873.5 cm each

Mike Parr

The Col­lege of Cardinals, 2005
photograph
186.5126 cm