The Death of Reflection
Muka Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2000
Once upon a time there was a man. To all outward appearance he was normal, successful, wealthy and almost happy. But when he entered a bar he did so on the provision that the mirror above the bar be covered, he avoided lakes and even puddles, nor were there any mirrors in his house.
The man had made a pact with the devil. In doing so he had lost his reflection.
To Giuseppe Romeo the death of reflection is more the loss of human consciousness, loss of the ability to think for oneself rather than loss of soul as such. Nevertheless, there is the implication of abandonment of responsibility and, perhaps also a hint at the dissatisfaction this eventually leads to.
Commercial messages tempt us with the Holy Grail of individual choice urging us;
‘Just do it’,
‘Image is nothing, thirst is everything, obey your thirst’
Time and again though we shy away from the message and go with the product. Allowing our choices to be dictated in a semi voluntary manner.
Part of the human struggle is the attempt to escape our containers, our bodies, our pigeon holes, others’ perception of us. Yet at the same time we are fearful of the consequences of such an escape.
We want to belong, without a container there is the danger that our essence will be dissipated and dispersed, diluted too an infinitesimally small amount, an approximation of nothing.
The slogans appeal to us but the product guarantees acceptance. We go for the product, not out of conviction or conscious choice but because it is there, because it is safe.
If this laziness manifests itself even in the choice of a soft drink it is all the more striking when it comes to the bigger questions.
We get married, baptise babies, in moments of desperation pray almost despite rather than because of our conviction. We resort to cultural patterns by instinct without reflecting on them or on our own roles within them.
Giuseppe Romeo is at once fascinated and repelled by people’s blind faith in the sloganeering around the meaning of life.
He considers religion to be a virus of sorts. Not good not bad, a natural occurrence which multiplies symbols internally to a degree where it almost – yet not quite- mirrors nature in its patterns. He has taken the slogans and repositioned the viewer with regard to these, no longer the audience outside of the work, the passive follower of a creed but physically bang, smack in the middle of it.
In the middle of ex vota supplications to the Virgin Mary (who are you? what are you asking and why? what are your expectations and what if I change the words?), in the middle of a tabernacle which opens up to reveal a crucifix, In the middle of a work entitled manipulator where fingerprints on a window frame show the viewer as only presence and testimony to an absent puppet master. Perhaps as only puppet master to exist.
At least physically this is reflection. Whether it is so on a greater level depends on the mind of the beholder.
Have you checked your reflection lately?