Region/Concept: North America, Movement
Sub-Concepts: Altar, Effusion, Outpouring, Containment
Description: Diana al-Hadid creates architectural sculpture titled “Suspended After Image.”

This staircase (itself a cascade of falling cloth, paint, and forms) leads to some kind of altar. But what kind of sanctuary or shrine is produced through a visual criterion of gushing and effusion? Is there a typology of the sacred that generates itself through the forces of torrent and outpouring (that which spills infinitely, bleeds everywhere), and then another that manifests only through processes of containment and drought (that which wastes nothing, overflows nowhere)? Two separate portals to the otherworldly, stretched along an axis between excessive secretion and ascetic desiccation. In the former case, for which this sculpture constitutes a kind of hallowing (of the history of flagellation, running wounds, and gods meant to be drunk downward), we see a man’s torso trickling across the planks in a way that links human destiny to a greater liquid metaphysics. And in the latter case, we are reminded of the fasting and self-deprivation of so many monks or saints (a history of parched throats, heavily cloaked bodies, and ethereal vows), or even the “thugees” of India whose worship of the goddess of destruction led them to treat murder as a sacred rite…though to be performed without the loss of a single drop of blood, and thus prone to committing acts of strangulation with silk scarves. One remembers the caravans upon which they preyed, and the structure of honor/violation through which any emanation or streaming of the veins was purely forbidden. Thus one wonders again whether different attributes of the miraculous are partitioned along this strange choice: whether to let flood or to bottle the world of wet and dripping things.

Jason Mohaghegh