Artist: Bradford Kessler
Exhibition title: Prince Drama XV
Venue: 15 Orient, New York, US
Date: October 5 – November 1, 2018
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and 15 Orient, New York
Even more than the style, the very rhythm of our life is based on the good standing of rebellion. Loath to admit a universal identity, we posit individuation, heterogeneity as a primordial phenomenon. Now, to revolt is to postulate this heterogeneity, to conceive it as somehow anterior to the advent of beings and objects. If I oppose the sole truth of Unity by a necessarily deceptive Multiplicity – if, in other words, I identify the other with a phantom-my rebellion is meaningless, since to exist it must start from the irreducibility of individuals, from their condition as monads, circumscribed essences. Every act institutes and rehabilitates plurality, and, conferring reality and autonomy upon the person, implicitly recognizes the degradation, the parceling-out of the absolute. And it is from the act, and from the cult attached to it, that the tension of the mind proceeds, the need to explode and to destroy ourselves at the heart of duration. Modern philosophy, by establishing the superstition of the Ego, has made it the mainspring of our dramas and the pivot of our anxieties. To regret the repose of indistinction, the neutral dream of an existence without qualities, is pointless: we have chosen to be subjects, and every subject is a break with the quietude of Unity. Whoever takes it upon himself to attenuate our solitude or our lacerations acts against our interests, against our vocation. We measure an individual’s value by the sum of his disagreements with things, by his incapacity to be indifferent, by his refusal as a subject to tend toward the object. Whence the obsolescence of the idea of Good; whence the vogue of the Devil.
As long as we lived amid elegant terrors, we accommodated ourselves quite well to God. When others – more sordid because more profound-took us in charge, we required another system of references, another boss. The Devil was the ideal figure. Everything in him agrees with the nature of the events of which he is the agent, the regulating principle: his attributes coincide with those of time. Let us pray to him, then, since far from being a product of our subjectivity, a creation of our need for blasphemy or solitude, he is the master of our questionings and of our panics, the instigator of our deviations. His protests, his violences have their own ambiguity: this “Great Melancholic” is a rebel who doubts. If he were simple, all of a piece, he would not touch us at all; but his paradoxes, his contradictions are our own: he is the sum of our impossibilities, serves as a model for our rebellions against ourselves, our self-hatred. The recipe for hell? It is in this form of revolt and hatred that it must be sought, in the torment of inverted pride, in this sensation of being a terrible negligible quantity, in the pangs of the “I”, that “I” by which our end begins….
– E.M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist