19 February 2015

A Real Fake: Purity

“No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.”
― James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

If there's a God I can't imagine why God gave us, wholly imperfect human beings as we are, the ability to imagine purity. When we're faced with contradiction and failure, notions of purity and perfection are like a built-in torture mechanism with which we can oppress both ourselves and others: I'm not good enough, this thing I made isn't good enough, you didn't measure up, you've let us down, you're a loser. Conversely, when we think we ourselves are pure, we become self righteous and arrogant: I'm on the right side of this thing, my country is exceptional, my logic is irrefutable, I know what God wants, you're a sinner, you're a moron, you're unclean, you deserve to die.

Fundamentalism, whether religious or secular, is a quest for purity. Fundamentalists regard the world as impure and corrupt, and according to author Richard Antoun (Understanding Fundamentalism), there are three basic strategies that Fundamentalists employ in order to deal with this perceived corruption in the world: migration (eg. the Pilgrims coming to America), separation (Christian colleges such as Bob Jones University), or militant struggle (Al-Qaida). Large organizations like ISIS as well as small groups of terrorists like the Charlie Hebdo shooters have chosen the third option.

Tenth color pass: linework on back half-wall.

Meanwhile, I'm dealing with purity issues of my own regarding this print. If you think about it, I'm trying to make a 'pure' image of Mohammed. But now part of me doesn't want to make the robe green as it appears in the original. I like it white, but the rules I set up at the beginning of this project include making a close reproduction of a 16th century Persian miniature, and I don't think I can wiggle out of that without messing up the purity of my premise. Muhammed is wearing a green robe in the miniature painting I reference, and he is shown wearing a green robe in most historic depictions. The green color is said to be associated with Islam, for which I found a myriad explanations. If you're truly interested, here's an article I referenced about color in Islam. According to this article, it would not be out of place for me to use white for Muhammed's robe, as white signifies purity and harmony. There's that purity thing again.

Eleventh pass: red lines in flaming halo.

Since I can't decide what color to make the robe, I think I'll print the keyblock next and see how I like it.


Victoria said...

This way the figure is pure idea. Interesting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts; we all learn from you.

Annie B said...

Yeah, I'm really stuck here for a bit.

Anita Thomhave Simonsen said...

it looks as far as you are now very beautiful....and I can imagine it will be very much that...beautiful....
But it is so interesting to follow your way of working, your thoughts about it and about purity...and all other issues according to this print...

Annie B said...

Thanks Anita!