WORDS WITHOUT THOUGHT NEVER TO HEAVEN GO a quote from Hamlet sort of signposts my reaction to the exhibition I went to of the American pop artist Ed Rusha Called “Extremes and In-between.” I sometimes find it as interesting to wonder why I don’t like an artist’s work as why I do like it. When I say that I didn’t like it, I mean that I wasn’t changed by it.
What is at stake for the artist? As Kierkegaard wrote in his essay “Fear and Trembling” ‘the ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he meant to murder Issac; the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac – but present in this contradiction is the anxiety that can make a person sleepless and yet without this anxiety Abraham is not who he is.’
What struck me about Rusha’s work was that there was something too neat, too circular, too symmetrical, too obsessive, lacking in a certain anxiety about the process – too anal to use a Freudian cliché.
As Zizek loves to quote the Ernest Lubitsch’s black comedy where the man goes into a cafe and asks the waiter for a coffee without cream. The waiter says, we don’t have cream, can I bring you a coffee without milk? It’s not the same thing. Something is defined not only by what it is but also by what it is not