Stealing Fire from Heaven- Statement by Kendell Geers
In an uncanny embrace between art and life, my exhibition “Stealing Fire from Heaven” opens in Istanbul amidst the flames of burning barricades and the plumes of smoke from teargas canisters raining down from above. Moreover the works themselves could not be more appropriate in terms of their timing, the titles and subject matter and yet they were all fixed many months ago. Perhaps coincidence, or else some innate sense of prophecy, or simply yet another demonstration of the human spirit that my work sets out to express and embody. The sharp tongues and fiery flames of the spirit we were created from will always find a way to rise up licking the heavens of hope.
No sooner had I landed in Istanbul than I found myself on the front lines of the barricades, partly out of the curiosity of an artist and partly out of need as an old Anti-Apartheid activist who refuses to give up on trying to make the world a better place for future generations. I still believe that art will change the world !
It all began as a youthful occupation of a tiny park in a naïve attempt to save a few trees from being cut down to make space for yet another shopping centre. As the world’s climate spirals out of control and the planet edges closer to meltdown, the cutting of any tree should be declared a crime against our humanity. I would go even further and say that the cutting of any tree is in fact a crime against every species on the planet for we will all suffer the same extinction if humanity does not re-cover it’s human right now.
As the Istanbul police responded with violence the streets filled up with thousands of people in solidarity refusing to accept the unacceptable in support of the right to be heard without being hurt.
“Stealing Fire from Heaven” is a meditation upon violence and poetry, the struggle between creation and destruction, the fragile balance between flesh and spirit. The clean utopian modernist lines of Mondrian, Stella and Lewitt are pinned down by the razorblades of security fencing and border lines. We gaze through the barbs and blades of rational engineered control spaces into the disorder and chaos of freedom and imagination. Art is all that liberates us from a world dislocated by ideologies, people separated by language and culture, faith ripped to shreds by fear and spirit torn from flesh.
If we cannot learn to respect our-selves, we will never find the strength to respect an-other and with blind arrogance we quickly lose sight of the world we live in, co-inhabit with and depend upon. We forget that we are just another guest on the planet and the human world cannot hope to survive if we do not also earn the respect of plant, animal, mineral and spirit worlds. We are all part of God’s creation and breaking the chains of life will imprison us in the darkness of an apocalyptic meltdown.
I dedicate my exhibition “Stealing Fire from Heaven” to the streets of Istanbul, to the people protesting for a better future and to the trees and plants of a tiny park begging to be saved as living monuments and reminders of the inter-connectedness of life and spirit. I dedicate my exhibition to every-body that still believes and will never abandon hope.