I’m going to try to keep this story simple, but history is never so simple
and neither is the future. I want to tell you about Synagoga and Ecclesia,
two women who became immortalized as sculptures on the entrances to
churches. Sometimes you also see them on Medieval ivory book covers
like the one from 1010 AD at the Staatsbibliothek in Munich.
Most historians understand these figures as a representation of the
domination of Christianity over Judaism; the idea that Synagoga is
defeated and replaced by Ecclesia as the new ruler of the world.
Synagoga is usually blindfolded to signify that she is blind to the truth.
But all of this is just one reading, one dominant interpretation that has
emerged to be so normal that we forget about the original story of
Synagoga and Ecclesia.
What the historians forget to say is that Synagoga and Ecclesia were
actually lovers engaged in a BDSM romance. Their symbols of
domination and submission were just roles that they played out to fulfill
their erotic kinks. These queer, sapphic, dykons made all the priests and
nuns jealous of their out and open hot love. Everyone always thinks
Synagoga is weak, blindfolded, falling over with her broken stick. But
they don’t get it, she might be the sub, but she is also a power bottom
setting the terms for how she wants to be dominated and how she wants
to be pleased. She spreads her legs while Ecclesia kneels down and sings
prayers to her lips.
In case you’re wondering about the text in the top of my drawing, I can
explain it for you. It’s the Yiddish word “Do” meaning “Here”. It refers to
the historical Jewish art object called “Mizrach” meaning “East”.
Mizrachs are artworks hung on the eastern wall of a home to indicate
which direction to pray to. I chose the word “Do” to reference the
concept of “Doykeit”, meaning “Hereness”, which emphasizes that my
home is not in the utopian ethno-nationalist project of Israel, but my
home is here, where I am.
I am here with Synagoga and Ecclesia, with all the complexity of
domination and submission. I am here with all the other Diasporist
divas from all over the world singing our song of songs. I am here,
Hineni, here I am.
The more I try to remember the more I forget.
My work on display concludes a two months residency in Geneva.
Switzerland has not participated in a foreign military conflict since its
neutrality was established in 1815.
Unlike Munich, Warsaw or Rotterdam (cities I have a personal
relationship with) Geneva was never confronted with the necessity to
decide whether or not to rebuild it in its “original” shape. No building
was ever demolished in a war, layers of history simply continue to exist
on the top of each other.
Cities are a material extension of histories of the people who inhabit
them, but they also mark and form collective dreams, desires and
struggles for the future. Even when rebuilt, they exist more like
“phantoms”, simulations or movie decors. Instead of their actual
materiality, they live in the memory of the communities and become
subject to constant transformation. If they were still around, they could
tell us about the generational trauma that hides in the cellars, or
resistance forces in the city sewers. Or tell us of the demons of the past
that are waiting to show up in moments of weakness.
Have you heard of ‚Economic Obsolescence’ before? It is an
industry-practice aimed at reducing the lifetime of products. Think of a
paper cup that disintegrates in your hand, a light bulb that blows, a wear
Plastic – simplistically speaking – is decomposed organic matter
firstly transformed under intense pressure into fossil oil, then secondhandedly
pressed into form. It comes in handy when things require
Conservation is, by definition, the extension of the durability of
objects by reducing chemical aging.
A thing (that is) appreciated is meant to last. Containment provides
conservation, reduces chemical aging and thus contributes to the
durability of objects. But who cares about a piece of plastic?
David Bernstein, Anna Łuczak, Jakob Forster
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