doug aitken is one of my favourite artists. new ocean and interiors are simply two of the most astonishing installations i have ever been to. what got me thinking about them was my last blog entry toxicity because doug aitken's work often seems to use narratives of people in the city interweaving and connecting but they often seem to be infused with spirituality. for example i remember one of his pieces in new ocean with a person travelling on a tube journey, an iconic journey for those of us in london. whilst the journey was fast, the girl's face had an incredible stillness and the image cut between slow gymnastic moves which seemed to be in her mind and the journey. i took it she was meditating or at prayer or just being still and the slowed down gymnastic moves were like the rhythm of slowed down breathing that helped her navigate the city space and get recharged for it. i've pictured that image many times as i have travelled on the tube. it makes me think that whilst the city can be toxic, it is entirely possible for encounter with the presence of god in the city. indeed if we can encounter the presence of god in the city it will give us the resources to navigate at 3 mile an hour, god's pace, rather than live at the pace of exhaustion, the city's pace.
anyway that's all by way of an intro as that got me thinking about doug aitken. i have a couple of art books of his. and there are a lot of wonderful images in them. i have scanned in this photograph and am having it as my computer desktop image through lent. i tried to find the image online but can't so have put this one up here [doug if you ever pop by, i hope this is ok - if not let me know and i'll remove it...].
a reflection on the image...
i have been struck by doug aitken's image of an armchair in the desert [i think it's a desert - it could of course be a beach?].
it's a still image.
the chair is un-used and dusty.
in front of it is the edge of a bush.
for some reason it got me thinking about prayer, deserts and burning bushes.
where is god?
prayer is like sitting in the chair and waiting.
the desert is away from it all.
whilst that sounds great, it also looks pretty bleak.
it's a risk to sit and wait.
after all nothing may happen...
the bush isn't burning.
i guess moses passed the bush when it wasn't burning many times - it was an ordinary bush. it was only one time it burned.
but all ordinary ground can be holy, seared with the presence of god. but who can say which piece of ordinary ground will become a window,
a thin place,
a site for the holy,
electric as the go between god makes the connection?
the temptation is to revisit a site where this happened once,
but god doesn't stay still,
god is moving on,
not concerned with nostalgic spirituality.
so i want to sit in the chair and pray,
to go to the desert place,
but i'm not expecting the bush to burn.
prayer may help me see other sites in days to come that may burn with the holy.
prayer may help me hear where god is calling me to move on next.
i was reading the scripture ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.
maybe the risk of prayer is worth it...
i'll sit in the chair