Them-And-Us is an initiative aimed at bringing together 20 European and 20 African visual artists, designers, illustrators and photographers. The project aims to explore the similarities and differences between first and third world views and aesthetics by pairing up artists from Europe with their African counterparts. Through a series of 20 double sided posters, artists were invited to explore the notion of ‘Them–And–Us’ and the broader theme of tolerance (or intolerance).
Light/dark has, in the mystico-religious tradition, symbolized the dichotomy of good/evil. Furthermore, light has always been a conceptual metaphor for truth in both faith and reason. A religious resurgence by impassioned believers is shaping world events while in the intellectual sphere the skeptics would seem to have all the evidence (or lack thereof) on their side. Yet people refuse to accept the seemingly irrefutable arguments and continue to embrace the Divine as their source of meaning, purpose, and comfort. Is it possible for us to know the absolute Truth? Although evidence can be compelling and emotional conviction overwhelming, no one can say they know with 100% certainty. If we can’t know, we can’t judge. We can simply believe/disbelieve and trust our decision.
Religious literature, old and new, abounds with promises of the eternal bliss of a paradise, a realm of radiant supernatural light. Transcendence and the emergence into Light has always involved submission to the Divine and annihilation of the Self. In this an aspect of Awe and Fear emerges. Does a freedom from Fear perpetuate apathy? When nothing is sacred can we still experience Awe?
When the first humans experienced cosmic meteorological processes like lightning, stellar conjunctions, and eclipses of the sun and moon, they must have been filled with fear. If we array these dire phenomena along with the dream/altered states of consciousness and their associated ‘visionary’ imagery, we can refer them all to a single psychological motive on the borderline between awe and fear. We may think of Awe and Fear, in the Self-conscious human, as the source of Religion, Art and the culture it maintains.
In ancient times at the dawn of culture when the Sun was worshipped, looking to the light in the sky was like staring into the face of a god. Too terrible to look at, too mesmerizing to evade. Like a moth drawn to the flame that will engulf it we are lured by the prospect of the divine. Does it glare back at our gaze?
© Copyright Givan Lötz 2011