Friday, February 18, 2022

Torah 28:13-15

In this piece, I demonstrate some consequences unfolding due to the events which are taking place in the Middle East, worthy of our attention. My aim is to bring the viewer’s attention to the humanitarian crisis propagating from that inflating powder keg, loosely labeled — in my experience — “the Middle East conflict”. I am depicting this issue through a few select representations, all laid out across a landscape that is a person’s left ear. The surrealist flavor seen here is influence from the Thai artist, Prateep Kochabua, who’s works I had been exploring at the same time this piece was created. 

It is a brutal reality for many, in that region. In spite of the growing harshness of their human condition, I gave this portrayal the serene finish of a typical ear chart that one may find on the waiting room wall of any private practice ENT. Much like our contemporary viruses, this too is global. A person can be effected anywhere in the world, and patients with this condition labor under an incredible amount of pain, until treatment. 

In addition to swelling and redness, the outer ear appears to be attacked by a virulent strain of settlement colonies. Along with the organic symptoms, the patient is also showing some signs of abuse (ie: the barbed wire fence installation, and scattered bruising). There is an enflamed irritation right at the entrance of the ear canal, but there is no way to tell how deep the infection really goes. 

Left untreated, this can damage the ear drum and result in significant hearing loss. Since the inner ear’s vestibular system is the control center of a person’s overall sense of physical balance, the patient may begin to experience dizziness — which could be early warning signs that the disorder is on its route to the brain. 

In this particular case, the patient appears to be a young Jewish boy. While creating this piece, I arrived at the hypothesis that the [young, male, Jewish population] is the most likely cohort to be effected. The title of this piece is based on the following passages of the Jewish holy book, the Torah: 

[13]  And the Lord will set you at the head, and not at the tail, and you will be only at the top, and you will not be at the bottom, if you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am commanding you this day, to observe to fulfill [them].

[14]  And you shall not turn right or left from all of the words I am commanding you this day, to follow other deities to worship them.

[15]  And it will be, if you do not obey the Lord, your God, to observe to fulfill all His commandments and statutes which I am commanding you this day, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.

I often encounter the Torah being used in debates, about this so-called Middle East conflict, by opposing sides. It is referenced in arguments about [whether or not it is necessary to oppress the indigenous people], about [whether or not an organization is a government or a terrorist group], and about [whether or not Jews from around the world should be migrating to that location]. 

In the process of studying the ideologies underpinning the different sides of this issue, I found these passages in chapter 28 of the Jewish holy book. The painting draws the viewer’s attention to this issue, and the title (in my opinion) resolves many (if not, all) of those arguments, which unfortunately continue to distract us away from the humanitarian problem.  Such talk is frivolous when people are painfully suffering.