The Proposition is pleased to announce a solo multi-media exhibition by Marguerite Van Cook.
The artist states:
“In creating the works for this piece I have tapped into ideas which have been central if not overly stated themes in my work. I have always been fascinated by the still photograph. Images derived from films, frozen moments that seemed to me to have a quality that was not attainable with regular photography. These images seemed to me to be inextricably more mysterious and powerful, being as they are snatches of moments taken from a larger but completer artists statement. To this end I created the film/video with the idea that I would draw from it to create “Still” images.
Inevitably the Structuralist issues are now confronted by the Narrative . I chose to work with the idea of directions as a further reference to the dimensionality of the medium, trying to take the viewer into other planes again. Feng Shui is a system which uses the elements and the points of the compass to organize and balance life. It seeks by balancing Yin and Yang , the masculine and the feminine principles, to achieve harmony. Feng Shui literally means wind over water . It can be represented by hexagrams. It believes Chi, or energy, flows through everything, but when that flow of energy is blocked the natural harmony of life is disrupted and that by identifying these blocks and removing or minimizing them, harmony may be restored. Thus Movement and Time become the added dimensions in this exploration.
The images I have used are sometimes drawn from archetypes and sometimes from imagination, sometimes I have adapted the Asian to the Western and at other times I have used imagery from European cinematographic lexicon. At times I have referenced the glossy modern world of fashion and at others the deepest ancient mythologies.
At first the premise of my film seemed simple; to go about New York and fix it’s Feng Shui but then I realized, as in the Tao Te Ching:
Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done
The universe is sacred
You cannot improve it
If you try to change it you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it you will lose it.”
Notes on the Film Funky Shui in New York
The soundtrack is inspired by the text from The Nag Hammadi, a piece entitled “The Thunder, Perfect Mind”, it is the only woman’s voice prophesying and as such immediately intrigued me. Like many singers my roots are in the church but not in the gospel church so often associated with performers, rather in the classical cathedrals and churches of England. The Church of England favors the singing of hymns and the having performed beneath the vaulted ceilings of those awe inspiring buildings it is easy to understand the reasons why.
I began singing as a soloist as a young girl and looking back I was blessed with a rare gift. Certainly it is unusual for little girls to take the roles I did but something in my voice equaled the purity of the young male and as such it never occurred to me that there was anything odd about my being unusual as a female soloist .
When I saw the text of “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” I immediately heard the musicality of the words and I hurriedly put together a crude studio to record my initial response. The actual piece runs fourteen minutes and it was with some trepidation that with my less classically used voice I began to sing. I went through the piece without any verbal slips or falters melodically which was exciting since I could not claim to know exactly where the piece would take me. Divine Inspiration is the phrase which comes to my mind. However, since in official circles the text is theologically unsound that may be blasphemous.
In creating the piece I wanted to acknowledge the Hebraic style of the text. There are other texts which are known as self declamatory ,”I am” texts and of which this piece resembles with the great exception that the orator is a woman. To this end I wanted to reference the tight mystical chants of the eastern European Jewish choirs, which we did with the use of electronics. Particularly a piece performed by a women’s choir of “The Song of Solomon”. It is hauntingly beautiful and is said to be Solomon’s love song to his God .
In creating the piece I worked closely with James Romberger and Jonathan Goldstein who facilitated and contributed their musicality and expertise and with Gregory Van Cook who gave grace to a complicated guitar piece.
The Texts in the Film
Both texts come from the “Tao Te Ching” from a translation by Gia -Fu Feng and Jane English
The opening text in the film reads:
That which shrinks
Must first expand
That which fails
Must first be strong
That which is cast down
Must first be raised
There must be giving
This is called perception of the nature of things
Soft and weak overcome hard and strong
Fish cannot leave deep waters
And a country ‘s weapons should not be displayed
The text written on the woman’s back reads:
Why are the people starving ?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes
Therefore the people are starving
Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.
Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand too much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.
Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.
May 22 - June 28, 2003
Marguerite Van Cook