2011
 
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Crusade Crusade - detail
Crusade - detail Crusade - detail
Crusade - detail Crusade - detail
Crusade - detail Crusade - detail
Crusade - detail Crusade - detail
Crusade - detail Crusade - detail
 
CRUSADE RETURN TO ARTWORK LISTING

Letters U-S-A: African Rosewood, Kiaat, Partridge, Zebrawood, Stinkwood, Zimbabwean Teak
Letters C-R and D-E: American Walnut
Crosses: stained Jacaranda and Philippine Mahogany
Base: pine plywood
Dimensions: 128 x 250cm

 

TEXT 1

One morning, in September, 2008, a few days before the crash of the New York stock exchange, I was in the underground train, on my way to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. As the cliché would have it, it was a bright and sunny day and I resorted to reading the advertisments in the headspace above the compartment. One advertisement, by an investment corporation, caught my eye. The corporation saw its noble task as a ‘crusade’ to help everyone invest their money wisely. Years of filling in crossword puzzles made me look at the word ‘crusade’ more intently and suddenly the letters ‘USA’ jumped out at me.

The cross is a symbol of death by slow and immense torture. It was introduced to the world by the Romans who excecuted their enemies and criminals on erect crosses in public so as to demonstrate unambiguously what will happen to anyone daring to oppose their order.

A cross, itself, is often believed to carry magical powers. Believers kiss and fondle it so as to invoke the love and mercy of God. For centuries so-called ‘splinters of the original cross’ were sold in market places all over the world to believers who would include it as powerful objects in their prayer shrines. It is said that if one were to collect all the splinters of the true cross on might easily have enough wood to construct an entire fleet of sailing ships.

Because Christ was crucified, the cross became the definitive symbol of the christian faith. Most churches are marked by a cross and countless Christian believers wear a cross on their necks. The shape of the cross, in heraldry, is further stylised in many ways to carry enhance a particular type of meaning. The four members of the crux alisee patee, for example, are so shaped as to open up in circular arcs towards their extremities. The word alisee means ‘rounded’. Patée or is the heraldic way of indicating the general form of the cross as spreading in all directions. Patée is derived from the Latin patulus which means, ‘wide open’, ‘extensive’. In English, patulence aptly expresses such an outward spreading. The shape of the crux alisee patée is therefore symbolic of the extent to which the cross can reach out into the wider regions of the world.

In heraldry a field of crosses is is called a crux seme, the seme or ‘sewn’ is from the Latin semen, meaning ‘seed’. A crux seme indicates an orderly sewing or planting of the cross in a field in order to spread its message in anticipation of the fruits and harvest that will follow. The background or field of my assemblage Crusade is a crux seme, but I prefer to deviate from the normal orderly rows found in the tradition heraldic crux seme. My crosses, in their hundreds, are disorderly collapsed.

The crusades were well-inteded efforts by Christians from all over the world to sew the seeds of the cross in far-away lands. They focused mainly on Palestine, the country where Christ was originally crucified. Unfortunately the crusades often disintegrated into blood shedding because the recalcitrant ‘enemy’ refused to yield and be converted. Massacres and plunderings often occurred and the word ‘crusade’ became an embarrasment and a shame. The ‘heathen’and the Muslims in particular see the crusades as gross human rights violations and they take offense to the word. It is hard to understand how Christians can still be proud of the word ‘crusade’ as if it personifies great achievements of good will. How some sporting teams or social entities can call themselves ‘crusaders’ baffles me. The Crusaders, a rugby team in New Zealand even make their appearance on their local playing fields accompanied by ‘crusaders’ on horseback, dressed inmedieval regalia and brandishing swords.

If Christ were condemned to death in the days of the cowboys, the Christian symbol might have been a noose and if he were crucified today, in Texas, the symbol will become the syringe used to administer the dath penalty.

CRUSADE explores the theme of imperialism through religious symbolism.

I have strewn hundreds of wooden crosses over horisontal strips of plywood, recalling the heraldic symbols of the Medieval crusades. Yet indirectly these forms also resemble the stars and stripes of the American flag. The word CRUSADE is spelt out across the width of the work, but the central letters, U-S-A, stand out, formed by spikes of dark red Rosewood, the colour of dried blood – a reference to the splinters of the real cross and to the assumption that those who band together against the world are ‘real Americans’.

In 2001, after the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, American President George W Bush likened his country’s war against Al Qaeda to a crusade. He was invoking the language of religious fanaticism. Willem Boshoff comments: “American conservatism is often driven by a fanatical evangelism. In the Bible (Acts 1:20), Christians are told to spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. Some Christian fundamentalists in America have taken this text quite literally, and in a most problematic way. They do not condone abortion, yet support the death penalty. They say that they want to change the world, yet seem to feel threatened by those who are different to them. Many of them not travelled outside the USA. Such Christians have no ears; they only have mouths. They will not listen, but the world must listen to them.”

TEXT 2

CRUSADE explores the theme of imperialism through religious symbolism.

Hundreds of wooden crosses have been strewn over horisontal strips of plywood, recalling the heraldic symbols of the Medieval crusades. Yet indirectly these forms also resemble the stars and stripes of the American flag. The word CRUSADE is spelt out across the width of the work, but the central letters, U-S-A, stand out, formed by spikes of dark red Rosewood, the colour of dried blood.

In 2001, after the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, American President George W Bush likened his country’s war against Al Qaeda to a crusade. He was invoking the language of religious fanaticism. Willem Boshoff comments: “American conservatism is often driven by a fanatical evangelism. In the Bible (Acts 1:20), Christians are told to spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. Some Christian fundamentalists in America have taken this text quite literally, and in a most problematic way. They do not condone abortion, yet support the death penalty. They say that they want to change the world, yet seem to feel threatened by those who are different to them. Many of them not travelled outside the USA. Such Christians have no ears; they only have mouths. They will not listen, but the world must listen to them.”

 
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