An amulet engraved with characters that attract occult influences, often used to perform a specific act, such as healing. They bring good luck and avert danger. Unlike an amulet (which is passive) a talisman must be waved, kissed touched or used in some similar way.
Becoming Dust: Powering up a Talisman
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As I pedal an antique exercycle, a turntable with a sterilizer box on it rotates. The box features hand-drawn copies of Renaissance anatomical engravings. The box’s hand-beaded interior showcases an écorché. While pedaling, I continuously repeat: “Memento homo, quia pulvis es ... et in pulverem, reverteris,” and the translation, “Remember man, you are dust and to dust shall return.” Throughout the performance, I cry as much as possible, like a miraculously animated polychromed statue by La Roldana, weeping over the plight of mankind.
What this project is:
1.) A meditation on the sure knowledge of my/our mortality. How do we humans cope with loss of loved ones and the final loss of self?
2.) Maybe it’s also a good luck charm. Do I imbue the exercycle/box/talisman with my life force? Can objects retain life energy? Emmylou Harris once lived in a house previously owned by Roy Orbison. She dreamed she heard his voice floating around up in the rafters. Perhaps his voice really is floating up there. I like to think so.
3.) It’s about staying humble. I am made of dust. We are all made of the same dust. Just plain old dust, nothing special. This isn’t a matter of diamond dust vs. dryer lint.
This performance references the history of our collective obsession with death. I think this obsession reached a peak – at least in the Western European cultural atmosphere – during the Victorian era.
I hope this artwork stimulates reflection on what it is to be intelligent and alive. Is there an afterlife, and if so, what is it like?
I personally believe this life is all we get. OK, OK, I'm a hypocritical atheist who knocks on wood compulsively in the false hope that evoking tree magic might prevent bad stuff from happening. Because "this life is all we get" is a scary thought. It means life is unbelievably precious. It means there is no higher power. It means we are all we have. How can we demean and destroy one another as we do, if we are all we have?
A huge thank you to my husband Jim Swonger, who figured out how to make the turntable work. Jim puts up with a lot. Jim and Andrew Ferrell fabricated the gear-reducer assembly. Chris Krysa tailored a number of costumes. Kristine Davies dyed the curtains the difficult-to-achieve persimmon color I wanted. Other helpers include the friendly folks at Blazing Saddle Cycle and Fridrich Bicycle of Cleveland. Also HGR and David W. Stevens of Davis Industries, Inc.
© 2015 E.D. Taylor, Artist in Flux, LLC; All rights reserved.