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Friday, 11 December 2015
By Chloe Langlois, Gallery Assistant


          1 tablespoon of olive oil
          1 clove of garlic, crushed
          1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
          1 x 400-gram can of chopped tomatoes
          2 medium eggs
          1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
          salt to taste

To make the purgatory you will first and foremost need fire. There is nobody willing, or able perhaps, to give an exact account of the punishments that await the eggs there, but all agree upon the presence of a burning hot flame.

Put your pan upon that flame and fry the garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil for a minute. The garlic and chilli will pique your tongue, and by extension your heart, while you imagine the pain the souls of the little eggs will soon endure. Add the tomatoes and some salt of the earth, then heat until they resemble a bubbling conflagration.

Crack two eggs into the sauce. Released from their physical host, no longer latent energy, their souls will burst free into the cleansing tomato-based fire. You must now pray for your eggs; they cannot pray for themselves so the living must do it for them. The eggs must be in a state of impermanence for the prayers to work but luckily eggs always are – constant and temporary, not alive, not dead, a host for potential, for what might become.

(If you are making this dish during the Middle Ages, and happen to be rich, instead of praying yourself you can make your eggs’ stay in purgatory shorter by paying your local church to hold a mass for them.)

The pan serves as a vessel for in-between, its cargo not condemned to hell but not yet in heaven. The eggs themselves have been saved, they have no morality now. We pray for them to lessen their pain and to expedite their ascension to bliss, the scores of their shells settled. Some believe the pan is closer to hell than heaven, others that it occupies the realm in which the sins of the eggs took place. There are even some who believe the pan to exist in Sicily.

The last step in the preparation is to sprinkle the dish all over with parmesan, then cover with a lid so the eggs can be purified. To transform the egg, symbol of the universe, eternal and immortal, we must combine the elemental trinity of salt, sulphur and mercury. Parmesan adds extra saltiness to the first aspect, which pertains to consciousness and wisdom. The second aspect, sulphur, signifies the spirit of life – it is present in the heat of the flame, the chilli and the sun-like yolk. Finally, mercury, the water aspect and trickiest of characters, ambiguous like the egg – he is each part and the whole. He is the fiery tomato sauce of the underworld, the domed lid of the heavens, between heaven and earth, male and female, the great circle of rebirth.

Keep checking on the eggs to see if they have transfigured into a pearly mass with golden yellow suns. Their bubbling little albumen souls have been laid bare, transparent – no sins could be hidden. Now they are turned white with the glow of redemption. The fiery tomato sauce has punished the eggs such that their debts have been repaid and their restoration is complete. The duration is indeterminable, it is not for us to know or decide. Only God can judge when recompense has been made.

The time is up.

Danai Anesiadou, “Don’t commit suicide just because you are afraid of death” installation view. Photo Andy Keate.

Eggs in Purgatory is an ancient dish with numerous variants and relations around the Mediterranean. Its origins are lost to history, although many regions (Naples, for instance) lay claim to it. Danai Anesiadou’s installation “Don’t commit suicide just because you are afraid of death”, part of Nottingham Contemporary’s Alien Encounters exhibition, makes repeated use of images of the dish and can be seen until 31 December 2015.

Posted by fohouse at 17:59    COMMENTS
Friday, 20 November 2015
By David Newport, Gallery Assistant

If something is okay, you will hear the response “That’s cool”, but that’s not cool. Cool is a subliminal, fleeting quality that is rare. If you pursue cool, you won’t find it. If you try to become cool, you’ll fail. Cool resides mostly among the African American Jazz musicians of the 1950s and 60s. You only have to list them to feel the personification of cool – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, their very names shout cool.

Sun Ra: The Cosmo Man, installation view. Photo Andy Keate.

Author Robert Farris Thompson, professor of art history at Yale University, has located a more ancient source for cool in the idea of “Itutu”, one of three pillars of a religious philosophy created in the fifteenth century by the Yoruba and Igbo civilisations of West Africa. Itutu, which Thompson translates as “mystic coolness”, contained meanings of conciliation and gentleness of character, of generosity and grace, and the ability to defuse fights and disputes. It was also associated with physical beauty.

Cool is, of course, gender, race and occupation neutral. Amy Winehouse was troubled, but cool. For a time, Steve McQueen (the one on the motorbike in the movie The Great Escape) was the King of Cool. Yet cool hasn’t always had a good press. One generation’s cool can easily become the next’s dross. You know, however, when you are in the presence of cool – it’s a feeling, a magic moment when your senses dance and the hair stands up on the back of your neck.

The most unlikely people can become cool. The most unlikely people can discover cool. Who would have thought that a group of 15 to 25-year-olds calling themselves Collabor-8 could have been instrumental in planning a cool exhibition? Who would have thought that a middle-aged, somewhat lugubrious Jazz artist dressed as an Egyptian deity from Saturn could be cool? That’s the nature of cool – it appears under the most unlikely circumstances.

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, I Want, 2015. Courtesy of the artists, Marcelle Alix and Ellen de Bruijne Projects.

If you want to find cool, why not try Alien Encounters at Nottingham Contemporary? Listen carefully to Sharon Hayes channelling Kathy Acker and Chelsea Manning, she is dangerously cool. Or, if that doesn’t please you, try the immersive experience of Sun Ra in Gallery 2. This exhibition will enhance your mood on the dullest of days and you won’t find a cooler space in the whole of Nottingham. You have until 31 December, so don’t miss it or you’ll regret it.

Cool is the new cool.

Posted by btimmins at 16:38    COMMENTS


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