Friday, July 3, 2009

Moon / Dust

Mark Tansey, Robbe-Grillet Cleansing Every Object in Sight, 1981

Dusting and casting drift into thoughts of the melancholy of the eternal, and the Sisyphusian Sublime of the infinite. The daunting desolation of Mark Tansey's image of Alain Robbe-Grillet at work, cleaning a seemingly infinite expanse of coded objects, weighs heavily. Carefully dusting the tiny monuments ... a Pyramid, the souvenirs of Napoleon, the Sphinx ... on one hand Robbe-Grillet is intimately engaged with what is at hand, and on the other completely overwhelmed by vastness. The whole is an echo of Robbe-Grillet's writing, oscillating wildly between the carefully observed moment, and the infinitely complex and imbricated texts which confound. (Robbe-Grillet later wrote a response to Mark Tansey. entitled "A Graveyard of Identities and Uniforms", in which he describes a scene in which an obelisk bears witness to the passing of a designer of cenotaphs and mausoleums ... it reads, Mark Tansey: Architect).

The poignancy of Robbe-Grillet's task, the vastness, the absence of presence, is echoed in the otherworldly images of the Moon, of Mars, of the places which are inhabited only mythologically, cerebrally ...

Viking Lander, Mars, 1976

And the theme song which plays over such images, Blind Willie Johnson's Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground, the blind, black musician buried in a pauper's grave in Texas, immortalised, aboard the Voyager spacecraft, on the Golden Record, off into the melancholy infinity of space .... in eternal defiance of death ...

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