IN GOOD FAITH, 2015, digital collages archival printed on Hahnemuhle paper; Horizontal: 9 x 12 inches each, 14 x 17 inches framed; Vertical: 12 x 9 inches each, 17 x 14 inches framed
In grief or trauma, our hands wring, clench, grasp and fold in lamentation and supplication. The grace of execution in Matthias Grünewald’s 16th century drawings is belied by the anatomical distortion and contortion of the hands that he animates — positions that are revealed as impossible when one tries to mimic them with real human hands. IN GOOD FAITH digitally splices passages from photographs of actual hands within reproductions of Grünewald’s work. The gestures of these hands are all too familiar in the entertainment and faith industries, from soap operas to televangelism, exuding a sentimentality that James Baldwin defines as“the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion.” 1 On the political front, such sentimentality is ultimately a “signal of a secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.”2 IN GOOD FAITH might represent the ineffectual public handwringing that permeates the political and media response to crises both trivial and profound — through images that are recycled again and again into numbness.
IN GOOD FAITH makes no effort to disguise the cut-and-paste of digital collage or the mash-up of the real and represented. We know that we are looking at reproduced rather than real Grünewalds through the magnification of mechanical printing techniques. “Real” hands become disjointed, dismembered and disembodied in the attempt to match them to their drawn counterparts. The resulting ruptures can be both grotesque and gripping, literally and figuratively. In the process, they become tortured, reflecting the pain and injustice that persists despite our gestures of concern. Projecting from these gestures, whether private or public, we might question: What other ruptures, what other consequences, unfold through deeds committed “in good faith"?
1 James Baldwin, Collected Essays, ed. Toni Morrison (New York: Library of America, 1998) p.12