Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Mitzvahs and New Sins

Yup, he's at it again.

Lovable, furry old David Byrne is takin' it to the street in Toronto, where his public art exhibition entitled The New Sins is being displayed all around town, courtesy of the CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival. A series of 16 to 20 bus-station-style lightboxes (such as the ones pictured above) duplicated God-knows-how-many-times and scattered all over the city, exhort John Q. Canada to rethink all the values that he's learned over the years from his parents, church, and TV... mainly from church, it seems, though. Or in my case, from temple.

Byrne actually conceived of this piece in 2001, when he printed these pages out and bound them together in a leather-bound, prayer-book-looking little volume whose texture, fonts and color scheme scarily resemble those of the Artscroll Siddur. Then he travelled to various random hotel rooms across the U.S., placing these books inconspicuously next to or atop the Gideon Bibles that have awaited the American wayfarer in his/her hotel room since time immemorial. Evidently, the spawning of bemusement, confoundment and/or perturbation amidst the great, anonymous masses of wayfaring American citizens has become one of Byrne's artistic preoccupations, but hey... what's a few nutty preoccupations among us world-famous artists, after all?

Below is a page from his book that I thought was pretty challenging (posted without permission, but I figure, if it drives people to his site, he may not mind s'much, after all, he's David Byrne, not Metallica):

"Honesty presumes an essential truth, a truth that is self-evident, obvious and agreed upon by all concerned. It presumes that the facts don't lie, that objective reportage is the news and that any portion of the truth is as valuable as all of it.

But can we not see that this is plainly not so, that fiction more often conveys the essence, the truth behind the truth, the golden seed that lies at the core of an even or person?

A fiction, a lie, a blatant yet well-told untruth -- do these not convey more of the essence of the matter or person, more of the reason why and who? The more fanciful this fiction, the more fabulous, inventive and mercurial -- is not this imagined universe more real that the one broken down into legalese, endless streams of data, charts and graphs?

How and why should love be honest? Love is a lie, a beautiful lie, a lie told by God to all His creatures. Is not this Lie better than Dirty Honesty? Our loved ones demand honesty, but what they really want is better fiction."


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