By Dr Gindi
Dr Gindi artist
Plato famously drives all free-thinking artists from his ideal city in the Republic. The only ‘art’ he permits within his sterile walls are objects that convey good moral values, that teach the right lessons, as determined by the guardian caste that rules the state. Plato’s objective here is total psychological control. Works of art have the power to subvert the authoritarian morality of the state, and are thus a grave threat to its stability.
My sculptures are exactly what the political Plato feared. Many of them centre oppositional figures or offer studies in contrasts, confronting the viewer with liminal forms rather than exemplars of virtue. They are not tools of indoctrination; they do not depict saints. My Sancta’s halo is broken. The Fateful Choice seduces the eyes of the viewer and makes them complicit in a moment of possible incipient violence.
Dr Gindi artist
But there is more than one Plato. The writer who puts authoritarian schemata in the mouths of his characters is also a wonderer, a wanderer, a thinker whose views change. He embraces irony, hidden depths and esoteric secrets. In the allegory of the Cave, which appears in the same work as his attack on art, the shadows on the cave wall are cast by sculptures, here standing in for the first approximation to true reality. Art is a threat, but it also offers a path away from the changing world and towards a vision of eternal being. While Plato would not welcome me to his city, we meet in our fascination for the infinite.
For Plato, the universe sings its own song, and we can model ourselves upon it; the stars move in patterns of beauty, and we can shape our souls to reflect them. The world of decay and change our bodies inhabit is set apart from the transcendent infinite. Yet there are threads that connect these two worlds, paths between them laid down in art and science.
Dr Gindi artist
But where Plato condemns our imperfect world, I fearfully embrace it.
Plato projects his changeless infinite being into the changing world of three-dimensional copies, conceiving alteration and decay as characteristics of the imperfect lower realm. Salvation is to be found by leaving the physical behind and entering a world of eternal thought.
My own work turns inwards not upwards. I work the material basis of our reality into a lens through which we can glimpse a changeable infinity. This infinite becoming is a world we escape only through our own decay. Yet at the same time, no real escape is possible. We pass into nothingness as our material becomes substance for something else.
Decay is a dance that does not lead to trivial enlightenment, a revelation of faith in some future elevation. But that does not mean the dance is empty. There is meaning to be found … to be created … here. Recognizing our mortality and embracing the endlessness of change gives us an opportunity to play more freely with the time that we have and with our short-lived bodies. There is emancipation here, even if it is not the escape from becoming that Plato once sought.