Please click on the thumbnails to open the galleries
The origins of this project for the artist Henry Avignon are rooted in Barnett Newman’s question, “what do we paint when we are in a time of moral crisis during the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust?” The origins of this project for the philosopher Dr. Hune Margulies lay in a question posed by Primo Levi, “After Auschwitz how can one write poetry”. Both Newman and Levi are asking the same question, what can we create, if anything, after the horrors of the 20th century and if so what does it look like? Avignon and Margulies found in each other’s work a mutual searching for an answer to that question. Margulies discovered through Avignon’s creative process and vision for space design the material expression of the philosophical principles underlying his own life’s work which aims to further the teachings of Jewish-German philosopher Martin Buber. The two have come together as artist and philosopher to develop a platform that establishes dialogical practice as an answer to Newman’s and Levi’s questions.
II. FROM THE PHILOSOPHER - Dr. Hune Margulies:
We are facing a time of crisis and as Martin Buber said, we cannot remain silent…The name of the project is “The Stationing(s) of the Double Cross”. Our project includes works of art, philosophy and poetry, music, film and participation by the audience. We refer to our project as “dialogical art” for it was conceived to be a platform for the renaissance of personal and social dialogue within the framework of an art project. We will explore the practice and meaning of what Martin Buber referred to as “the moments of inception” of the in-between of I and Thou.
We define dialogical-art as the moment of inception of a relationship between artist, art and audience. The difference between this and other forms of inter-relational aesthetics is that the moments of inception are not predetermined in relation to a desired or pre-determined outcome. We intend to bring the space and the philosophy together as one integrated dialogical-art event. Our project is one instantiation, or even a rehearsal space for the enactment of a wider social dialogical project. This is what is referred to as the poetic-life, a life guided by the mindfulness of the possibilities and opportunities for dialogue present everywhere and all the time.
- Dr. Hune Margulies
III. FROM THE ARTIST - Henry Avignon:
Barnett Newman’s project, “Stations of the Cross,” was his answer to the fundamental question: what can a man in a time of moral crisis paint that will stand as a conscientious effort to heal himself and provide himself access to spiritual reconciliation. I believe the answer to the question lies not in creating objects to be viewed but to create the in-between spaces for engagement between object and viewer to increase their sensitivity to the personal intentions of interacting with the space and other viewers. The space is designed to guide viewers toward a mindful experience of dialog. The available experience of traditional aesthetics through art objects as symbol is subverted. All art objects are instead semiotic and built into the space to encourage viewers to engage in a personal moment of a transformational process as ethical deed and a way of poetic living. All of the material components of the project space act to bring viewers into moments where they are confronted with each other and have to make a choice in how they engage. Mindful of the art historical precedent established by Barnett Newman I have chosen to explore the dialogical experience as an answer to his question through the same thematic platform of the Via Dolorosa. Through the design of the space I metaphorically setup pathways of experience and transformation. The “Double Cross” of my title refers to Christ’s final words: “my father, my father, why have you forsaken me,” which indicates that between the Christ and his father a dialog has been broken. In this way one important interpretation of the Crucifixion narrative is the quintessential importance of dialog to spiritual reconciliation.
IV. 2D Emanate / Conduit Component
The “Double Cross” of the title speaks also to a critical design element of the project space. In the Crucifixion narrative there is a wooden cross which represents suffering and the mirrored form of the fleshen cross that is the body of the Christ as mercy. The two crosses are engaged on behalf of humanity. Between the flesh of Christ and the grain of the wooden cross there is a potentially infinite number of contact points. These theoretical points of contact stand for potential points of engagement. The idea is that these points of contact (engagement) become the grounds of transformative dialog between suffering and mercy. Metaphorically speaking the 2 photographic works of each Stationing are the material expression of the in-between of the two crosses.
In the 12 Stationing(s) and Lost Tribe components, Avignon refers to the 26 Photographic works as either Emanates or Conduits to substantiate with visual language the importance of passing through the experience of dialog toward a moment of inception. Additionally these terms apply as descriptors to different aspects of Avignon’s creative process and medium by which they were created. The form of the imperfect circle is thematic in all of the Emanate and Conduit components. In the Stationing(s) area of the inner ring, viewers are guided to stand facing so that each is a potential obstacle to the others view of the “artwork” ahead. It is here that participants may choose to engage in dialog in order to transform the notion that the other stands before him/her as an obstacle. Therefore the participants becoming the working function of the space as art.