The Judas Jesus
NOTES : from the compilation book by Rolf Vasellari - Black Sheep
The following piece by Graeme Revell was written circa 1986, and was accompanied by photographs of Graeme and Sinan by Peter Anderson and art by Sinan.
I see in this book an unusual opportunity to tell the truth, the artist's truth, as simply and directly as possible. For this reason I have decided not to write down my feelings as poetry, for in this case it would disguise more than it revealed. And I am not an artistic dilettante. Therefore I will not produce any little drawings in the naive style.
Neither do I intend to flaunt or even reveal any of my sexuality, so fashionable in popular 'culture,' posing (as always) as some artistic statement. I firmly believe that such adolescent concerns are too trivial to interest anyone but the tabloids and the teenybop magazines and their readership. Once one has decided one's sexuality in private, be it heterosexual, homosexual, bi- or transsexual, there is surely no point in waving banners in the public arena. Those who do so misunderstand that the most potent erotism, one's private possession and the true nature of Desire, is the Secret, the unrevealed flesh.
Those who actively seek to become or allow themselves to be marketed as 'star' figures are simply aggrandizing a pathetically limited ego or exploiting the same weakness in an audience. More than likely they are doing both. To my mind this shows an ultimate contempt for one's audience, preying on an unfortunate situation whereby we are all expected to identify with some role model or other, whether they be admirably social or notoriously anti-social. There is absolutely no qualitative difference between a so-called 'commercial' musician or artist and an 'independent' one in this respect.
I trust that not a single person reading this will be suffering from
the delusion that I or any of the other artists in this book are more 'worthy'
or 'different' than they are. That is how it should be. Why then are we
privileged to present our views and never to hear yours? There really is
no answer to that outside of the fact that we are known to the editor by
what we do, not by who we are. Which is why I will only speak of my beliefs
and aspirations in strict relation to my work. In fact, all I am able to
do is speak of my relationship to you, my creation of an object, and hopefully
your understanding of me through it. Anything else, the slightly comical
enigmas some of my peers in this book like to shroud themselves in, the
even more comical way they actually start to believe in this, does not
interest me. I am concerned not with individualist egocentric problems
but with the timeless concerns of humanity. If my choice to write about
these things in the simple form of a letter, if you like, fails to communicate
them, I deeply regret it and accept full responsibility. Nevertheless,
this is my best shot.
Every artist always dreams of attaining the maximum understanding through his work, even though what he actually gives the audience is only a small fraction of himself. A true artist exists only for his work. The nature of his compulsion is to continually re-create himself in conjunction with the exigencies of his time - he has to create. Van Gogh said: an artist 'fights' with all his strength with the material of life in order to express that ideal truth which lies behind it. It is his duty to continually try to widen his world view, since an artist's 'inspiration comes from his psyche and his conscience - the totality of his experience of the world. Our dreams would be but empty shells without the miraculous works of the great artists of history: Shakespeare and Kafka, Chopin and Pergolesi, Leonardo da Vinci and Van Gogh, Andrey Tarkovski, Antonio Gaudi and the architects of the Hagia Sohpia in Istanbul. Such monumental achievements, before which I stand in absolute awe, do not so much express ideas about life, as life itself. They do not symbolize or even signify life but embody it, expressing its glorious singularity. The human voice, for example, always communicates this mysteriously, even if the words themselves are completely foreign to the listener.
Humanity aspires towards the 'absolute' rather than any expression of
the particular such as a political issue or a love affair. And our sole
gift to future generations can be how we understood, or failed to understand,
the phenomenon of life itself, its tragedy and misery, its beauty and glory,
its humor and its communion. It is true that a piece of music heard by
a thousand pairs of ears is a thousand different pieces of music. Yet a
great work of art will communicate on a spiritual level what is essential
and eternal in each individual soul.
The audience deserves the utmost respect, a sense of their own dignity. No one is perfectly educated but if the artist uses this ignorance in order to gain personal kudos he is committing the ultimate dishonesty. He is shirking his responsibility to contributed uniquely to the repository of human aspirations and hopes. So many, however, merely steal and repeat the ideas of others, relying on the ignorance of others for their own egotistical gain. I feel great pity for these parasites, and even more sadness that they can take in so many people.
It is my fervent desire, then, through my music, to stimulate each person who listens to be a little more aware of the depths of his or her soul, to be conscious of the links which connect one to humanity and to the world. In particular, of the beauty of mankind, beauty of all kinds, despite all the evil we continue to perpetuate. This kind of beauty can so easily be missed by those too busy chasing after phantoms or bowing down to idols. My work is no more and no less than the material expression of my love of life and of human potential.
It is time which really confers value on a great work of art as it slowly
becomes part of the collective unconscious of a culture. It surfaces in
our dreams and forms another fragment of the framework of our imaginations.
The greatest reward for an artist is that his gift, given freely, should
be privileged to become part of this unconscious. In the face of this,
transitory approval and rewards are meaningless, art as commodity nothing
more than an economic necessity. True art, as I mean it, is anti-social.
Society seeks stability and resists change. Art seeks infinity and does
not stop when it finds a position one might describe as 'alternative,'
but always tries to go 'further,' the source at once of pain but also of
So few of the artists working in pop culture take any such real risks. If I do not feel any affirmity with them it is because I do not think they try hard enough. I have tread and heard many people say that the aim of a life is to leave the world a better place than one found it. But if this is not to be an empty cliche, it is far more difficult than it sounds, requiring great moral conviction and positive action. Too many of us take the easy way out, reaping the rewards of our art without taking enough risks. That is why I have dedicated the last three years of my life to just two projects: The Insect Musicians, and the Adolf Wolfli project, which I hope is a small step in the direction of a real contribution to the sublime store of art works from cultures past and present.
Yet along with such dreams and aspirations, I also harbor great fear and doubt. My greatest fear is Time. I do not think I fear death for any selfish reason, but I am frustrated by the short time we have to live. I feel just as much compulsion to be an architect, for example, as I do a musician. And I feel inestimably guilty that I cannot fulfil the vocation for which I was trained - that of an economist specializing in problems of underdevelopment. My sadness stems from the fact that I do not have several lifetimes to lead. Here I am building melancholy or powerful edifices of sound, transitory strands of beauty in the air, only a few seconds of which, if I am lucky, will have any enduring value. What is the significance of this accomplishment in comparison with the immense weight of human suffering? The only response I can make to this question is that I would dearly love to be able to make a contribution in this area also.
Having just read back what I've written, I am aware that it may all
sound a bit pompous in the context of the other contributors. I hope not.
I was asked to project my inner life, my obsessions, fears, loves, hopes,
dreams. And here in all honesty, they are. I have a few friends, a wife
and two children whom I love and admire. All I wish is to be able to give
them a gift as potent and eternal as the one they and the great artists
of history have given me - their love.
Graeme Revell - SPK