Marija Pavlovska,  modern art

Not Giacometti’s stick man, Rupert Murdoch, or Job

Space exploration, like so many of our childhood dreams and adult hangovers, has pretty much ended with the current economic meltdown. It’s a shame the collective  dejection we feel when we remind ourselves of that will likely keep many of us at home more often than we’d like these days.

I can’t say an art show is motivation enough on it’s own to change that. But if your bored enough, or fortunate enough to be walking in the early evening rain in the Wedding district of Berlin you might suspend that for an hour or two.

Marija Pavlovska’s current one-woman show at the Prima Centre in Berlin is a hangman’s reverie. One’s panoply is stripped bare to the bone and the nooses that float about draw me to a single image at the scene.

This image I speak of is of a man. It is the third set of shapes in a triptych of her Doppler series on show here. The man is a stick figure, but not a lone stick figure, he is not Giacometti’s man. He is staring fixedly into the glare of another, much, much larger figure. Call this other figure a Giant I guess for it is only a massive head, like the head of Galactus in Marvel Comics, or the Robot god in Matrix Revolutions or The Whale that hiccupped Job. The head encompasses a world, perhaps the world that belongs to the stick figure.

They do not seem to be talking to each other, though the mouth of the large head is agape, with a Baba Yaga-like solitary tooth in full rot dangling menacingly. It may be something the stick figure has just said, or is about to say, as his pose is one of great calmness, of surety of intention. There is a dramatic sense of that, of something about to happen.

Will the large Head God devour the man? Will he squeeze him ever tighter? This I cannot say, for the stick man is firmly in the Head God’s grip (let’s call him the Head God for now or forever if you like), if only by the ankles, leaving open the possibility, as it were, for a wriggling-loose action. It does not seem that the stick figure is at an imbalance, though the position he holds must be painful.

The Head God seems livid, so he may actually be yelling at the Stick Man. Perhaps he is telling him to get back down in the palm of his hand, so that only his head is free.

“I don’t have a body, why should you?”

And this is true, the Head God is exactly that, he is just a head. The Stick Man is very still, his thin arms are by his side, and they are not in a pose that would suggest he is planning on jumping free from his master’s domain, into the abyss of the white canvas space. He is, as I said, simply standing still, looking head-on at the Head God.

It could be that the Stick Man has made his position clear.

“I will not leave you, but our relationship, from this day forth, will be a new one”

But he has not said anything yet, he has only just found the strength to stand up straight at all you see.

And here is yet another point in the analogy with Galactus and the Silver Surfer, which is clearly drawn on Mercury and Zeus on some levels, in which the Sliver Surfer agrees to remain Galactus emissary, in exchange for his sparing of this paltry  planet Earth. The Surfer voluntarily decides to subordinate his own freedom, through free will, in order to save the fuck-ups below.

Galactus eats worlds. Much like a dictator eats his country or a regime/corporation its citizens: Cuba, East Germany, Rupert Murdoch et al or like a painter eats his material. The abiding impression one leaves Ms.Pavlovska’s show with is the utter ravenousness missing in our lives, in times of hunger and deprivation, these times of ours, it is vital not to lose sight of the fact that the mind and the heart survive only by dreaming of the feast that is to come. 

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