Photographic series, 2018
Works L-R: Revelation 21:4 (He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death), Revelation 21:5 (Then He who sat on the throne said: Behold, I make all things new), in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
In a Louise Bourgeois monograph, I discovered a picture of an artwork, an embroidered cloth handkerchief with the sentence:” I’ve been to Hell and back and let me tell you it was wonderful.” To me it sounds as if the speaker is entertaining a group of avid listeners gathered around a table for drinks, listeners dying to know what hell was like for the artist. She paints a decadent picture of hell as a wonderful adventure.
Ever since seeing the work, this sentence has stuck with me “and let me tell you it was wonderful.” I kept thinking that, with all respect to the artist, it is a lie. Either she has not gone to hell and back, or it was actually not wonderful at all. I’m inclined to think the lie is to do with the latter. There isn’t really any depth in repeating what everybody already expects of hell. And here I think the point of the work is to be found, in the cocky yet painful lie, that actually turns the truth behind it into an even more complex matter.
In the end I thought that the lie is not the final point of the work. The fact that she has come back from hell, to tell the tale, is what actually defines whether the lie about its ‘wonders’ is even relevant. Because truly, what difference is there between the wonder and the horror of hell in retrospect? What means does she have really, to explain hell to people who haven’t been there, other than to tell a blatant lie, hoping that the brightness and cheer of the lie will illuminate the darkness of the unspeakable truth.
Exhibted at Kuvataideakatemia Library, Helsinki