Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nihilist Sculpture Project Nears Completion

While attempting to find the footing from which to begin the critical discussion of the photo-set posted in my last couple of entries and the subsequent future of the Miss Claustrophobia project, I realized that this would probably be a good time to (give the reader a bit of a break from this singular subject and) fill in some helpful gaps of information on similar/ somewhat/ arguably interconnected projects. Therefore, I feel that before proceeding I should reprint a press-release that I wrote several months ago for The Asbjorn Poetry and Arts Collective that has yet to appear on this particular blog. If you are having a hard time gethering how this article relates to the projects that I've been discussing lately (other than explaining names haphazardly dropped in prior installments) keep reading in the future, the conceptual connections should become more apparent.

PHOENIX, Arizona-

Chris Castle, a nihilist performance artist based at ASU's West Campus, braces for controversy as he proposes plans for a post-modern sculptural work constructed entirely from green Bible pamphlets handed out around campus by trench coat-wearing evangelicals.

Castle, a founding member of the Asbjorn Poetry and Arts Collective, is a notorious individual in the local post-modern art community. His past projects have included performance installments on themes that blur the lines between representation and reality. With this project, he is taking his stab at an age-old question. "We're all so wrapped up in the insignificant aspects of our 'lives' that we fail to see the meaning, though the 'meaning' of our 'lives' may be just that there isn't one at all." This piece will be constructed of green-covered copies of the New Testament that have been distributed in throughout campus by an evangelical organization. As for the shape that the sculpture will take, Castle says, "I keep thinking of this Belle and Sebastian song… where they're talking about life-size sculptures of the Velvet Underground… but I don't have enough bibles for that. It will assume shape based more on my latent insecurities, hopes, dreams, loss of faith, all of this." He says that the project was inspired by "the lack of inspiration.. inspired by my own despondence, how little inspiration there really is." He proceeds to discuss the art of William Shatner, and compares his project to a particular song - "the first line of the song is 'live like you're gonna die. Cuz you're gonna.'"

When it comes to the scope of the sculpture project, Castle claims that "there will be random displays of the work in places where its meaning is most needed and most often ignored. Perhaps at the Greyhound bus station, a busy street-corner, shopping mall, or freeway off-ramp." He says that the green Bibles provide an ideal medium for bringing his concept to life for a myriad of reasons. "Green, like money, is a symbol of decadence, and how the living are made to service the unliving. The bible is an empty text full of wives tales. They mean nothing, yet to some, everything. Plus, they were free. I dropped the last of my paycheck on Jack-in-the-Box tacos."

Although the medium of this work may make it seem to invite controversy, Castle isn't anticipating much critical fire. "I expect most people to not even realize there's a sculpture present. And if they do, they won't be able to separate it from the dismal reality that surrounds it." Although other nihilist artists close to Chris Castle, such as William Steele Jameson III, assert that they've witnessed much work completed on the project, the answer from Castle himself is far from clear. "That's difficult to determine. If by 'work' you mean… copious amounts of… inspiration… then the project is nearing completion." The organization that distributed the green Bible pamphlets was not available for comment.

(a photograph from my own portfolio of Chris Castle's sculpture "Savior Rising From the Pool.")


Anonymous said...

This blog contains some of the most pretentious, ridiculous bullshit I have ever had the displeasure of reading. I would hope that it's a joke, except it isn't funny, and that would be just another level of failure.

Unfortunately, this pseudo-nihilistic "artist" will probably take any criticism as evidence that he is doing something right. Adversity probably validates his meaningless (and I don't mean that in the good way) little project.

You make a mockery of everything you touch. You are probably a giant asshole with endless justifications for your jackass affectations. In fact, I don't need that "probably".

Bernard P. Provencher LeVautour said...

Wow. Mr. or Miss “Anonymous” got rather worked-up while scouring the year-old archives of my blog.

I must just say that, although this post was definitely far from completely “serious,” it wasn’t exactly a “joke” intended to be “funny” in the conventional sense, either. It as merely an academic experiment that I had conducted while in college, that was only posted here for the amusement of people who knew what I was working on at the time, and those people comprised the primary readership of my blog back then. This piece was originally written for a journalism class that I was somewhat ironically taking at the same time as a class on post-modern theory. As one class insisted that we must strive, above all, for unbiased “truth” (journalism), the other (the one to which my personal scholarly allegiances were stronger) insisted that such “truth” is impossible and irrelevant (postmodernism). Therefore, I thought it would be amusing and thought-provoking to try to fuse the two contradictory ideas together, experimenting with the limits of one while employing techniques of the other. Nihilist art seemed, therefore, an apt topic. Thus, I framed a scenario in which I could “truthfully” follow all of the rules and guidelines of the journalism assignment, which writing about something that, by definition, negated the possibility of such truth. I interviewed a “real” person (albeit the constructed identity of that person, an act which I believe all artists to be continually engaged in) and recorded his rambles on a topic that had already been discussed and debated at length in an academic organization that I was involved with, from the perspective of that constructed character, which was the primary outcome of the very “project” being discussed.

To me and some of my scholarly peers at the time, the outcome was somewhat amusing, so I decided to share it in a public forum. If you find this “pretentious,” I’m sorry. This is merely the sort of thought-puzzles and critical experiments that engage my mind and that I feel passionate about. If this way of thinking doesn’t sit well for you, you are in no way obliged to read it. If you fall into this category, as “Anonymous” apparently does, I would also advise avoiding the writings of Jean Louis Borges, Roland Barthes, and Samuel Beckett, who were the subjects of the academic papers that I was most actively engaged I writing at the time, which proved much of the provocation for this experiment.

Those who know me well can attest that I don’t take myself nearly as seriously as this reader apparently perceives that I do. What I DO take seriously, however, is keeping my mind actively engaged in critical and theoretical thought, and working out and experimenting with the dilemmas posed by such thinking in various creative forms.

I am well aware that the contents of my blog are not for everyone. I’m sorry, “Anonymous,” that I rubbed you the wrong way.