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Simon Glass
Artist

Toronto
June 07, 2017

Simon Glass’ work examines prophecy in the context of the possibilities and impossibilities of translation, philosophies of language, and the conflation of future and past. He has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions throughout Canada and internationally. He is an Associate Professor at OCAD University where he teaches photography and cross-disciplinary art. His work Jeremiah: ha’aretz is currently being exhibited at Fentster in Toronto. The opening reception takes place on June 7 at 7pm. His project The Ten Commandments/Prohibited Weapons will be on view at the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton from August 17 to December 2.

1. The Prophet Jeremiah

In the Book of Jeremiah it is predicted that the Kingdom of Judah would be invaded and its temple destroyed by the Babylonians – as occurred later in 586 BCE. Almost certainly, Jeremiah’s writings were redacted after his death, but even during his ministry (ca. 627-580 BCE) there were signs of the ascendancy of the Babylonian Empire and the destruction of the temple might have been foreseen. Jeremiah’s poetic prophecy turns the story of creation in the Bible upside down. The sky darkens. People and animals disappear. As with history and memory, speculation is as compatible with belief as it is with doubt.

2. Nearby stars and the Prophet Isaiah

The Milky Way galaxy is thought to be between 100,000 and 180,000 light years in diameter. Some of our galaxy has been mapped and there are online tools with which one can find stars at distances within a given range. Searching for visible stars at about 2750 light years distant has produced a list and a map of six stars whose light emanated from their sources around the time that the Prophet Isaiah wrote his prophecies of doom and redemption. These stars form a constellation in the sky in the shape of the Hebrew letter zayin, which is traditionally associated with arms and weapons.

3. Giorgio Agamben and distant stars

In Giorgio Agamben’s What is the Contemporary? he muses about the darkness in the night sky that we see between the stars. This darkness results from stars so distant and receding from us at such great speeds that their light can barely reach us. He suggests that the contemporary is the one who sees this light – this light that is on the cusp of invisibility. But what of those who might be in a position towards which the stars advance? What might the contemporary amongst them see?

4. My daughter

My daughter turned one recently. She has very few words, but she can choose between two stories if I hold one book in each hand for her. She certainly detects differences in the world. The more she acquires English, the more the world will be divided up for her according to principles and perceptions associated with the English language, but it’s clear – ideation comes first.

5. Meditation

My meditation practice is not as regular as it should be, but when I do yoga, in between sets of bird dog positions, I briefly visit a quiet, word-free space. I have used meditation to affect changes such as quitting smoking and overcoming fears. I used to expect that I would need to formulate intentions by bringing to mind the feelings associated with them, but I have found that verbal instructions work! My subconscious is more linguistic than I thought.

 

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