alfonso artiaco
alfonso artiaco
founded in 1986

thomas hirschhorn
The Green Coffin
06.04.2006 - 22.05.2006

"If someone makes comments about my work saying « that isn't art at all » or « I can do that as well » those remarks are not an unfavourable indication because at least they demonstrate that this person is neither excluded nor intimidated by my work-two things I care about. Such a response represents a first step in the direction of my work, the first step, the most important one, the step, which makes art possible-without mediators, without advisors, without communication and information. Only art possesses the power-as art-of creating the preconditions for a confrontation or a dialogue-one on one-in direct contact with the other. The other that I absolutely want to include and not to neutralize.
I love the sculptures that are carried during protest marches or demonstrations. They are quickly-created objects that have an unambiguous mission: to denounce Injustice. I love these objects because they possess the utopian power inherent to a universal pictorial language.
Throughout the entire world, the forms are similar; there are similarities in the ritual of bearing a coffin. This act is a manifesto of sorrow. It does not matter whether it is the coffin of a deceased statesman, the coffin of a revolutionary, the coffin of a martyr or the false i-e empty coffin of Arafat which is carried to the gravesite by the fellow countrymen in the Gaza strip–at the same time as this was happening with the «authentic » coffin in the West Bank.
The most important is nor to establish a hierarchy between the coffin or between the reasons to bear a coffin.
There is an equal significance shared by that coffin which is carried in order to conjure up those who will die in the future and by that coffin of the actually dead soldier! The coffin which is carried along in a demonstration, which is intended to impede the closing down of a factory, is just as important as « the coffin » of actual unemployment. The coffin becomes the symbol of sorrow. A sorrow without hierarchy.
A coffin is borne. A coffin that is a passive sculpture, which symbolizes both the act of dying and that which has died, becomes activated by the hands, which bear it. It is active. The absurd « activity » of the coffin- whatever its significance, whether it's empty or not- is the reference and inspiration for The Green Coffin. What interests me with this work is the insistence, the necessity, the conjuring-or self-conjuring-collective ritual of bearing a coffin along with the resistance, which is thereby generated. The resistance arising between the passive object and the hands which set in motion. It is not a matter of honour or of religion. It is not a matter of consolation. The world that surrounds me is the point; the focus is the time that goes by and the reality in which we all live. The energy and the resistance created from a unique passive object and the collective will to activate it are the main points.
Borne by thousands of hands, touched by thousands of hands, Arafat coffin was forced away from the intended burial site. It drifted away from its intended destination through an uncontrollable energy. For me this energy was the dominant theme of The Green coffin. I wanted to give a form to this unreal and irrational force because it's the force of love or the power of adoration without any explanation.
Belonging to his form are he handmade decorations, the labellings, the announcements, the disjointed but nonetheless meaningful messages upon the coffin which they accompany- and which in fact turn the coffins into the carriers of their acts of communication- as if the very loss were itself to be transformed into a mouthpiece. I want to bring these secret interrelationships up to surface-to provide them with a form. The Green Coffin is not concerned with some relation to current events. Instead it is a matter of making use of that relevance in order to proceed past the topically of a situation and the history."

Thomas Hirschhorn
27th February 2006

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