ON LABOUR, MIRACLE, and COSMIC WEBS
Must work and miracle exist on opposite ends of the spectrum? Hans Ulrich Obrist across a myriad of discussions these past two days has sprinkled in suggestion that hard work often produces an experience that parades as miracle, transcending any traces of labour by appearing effortless. Perhaps Obrist has the energy put into the production of this Miracle Marathon itself on his mind, an endless symphony of logistics and timescales, emails and texts for miles, teams of people running back and forth behind the scenes to keep all moving forward for an expectant audience. This is the essence of entertainment: tucking away visible seams, taping hairs in place, painting pallid faces, adroitly cutting to the next scene. A fine balance between embracing the organic and letting the imperfect act as a relatable reminder of humanity, and, alternately, the jingling of bells to draw attention away from moments of human error, protecting the magic, fighting to maintain the casted spell. Are genuine miracles exempt from sweat beading on a quivering lip? Is part of the grace of the supernatural that it occurs without remnant of strain? And is there such a thing as a “genuine miracle” at all — or is that in itself an irreconcilable contradiction?
In conversation this afternoon with Tomás Saraceno and Jan Beccaloni, the triad turn to the work of the spider as inspiration, their creation of “cosmic webs”, compositions that find strength and beauty in their intricacy, yet are impermanent, eternally vulnerable, and therefore always subject to an imminent destruction. Their consideration of webs — beautiful, functional, and seemingly miraculous in how they appear to the human eye — makes me wonder as well about the aesthetics of miracle. As Naidoo pointed out yesterday (using Donald Trump as grim example), maybe miracles are not inherently beautiful. Maybe miracles, to be genuine — to be crucial — draw more from the realm of the impossible, the absurd, the unreal, the surreal, the macabre. The beautiful miracle, as found in the cosmic webs of spiders, or the mythology of an Immaculate Conception (a woman at work to produce human life, a production scrubbed of pain, sweat, tears, blood — a fantasy propagated by and for men, for sure), perhaps those miracles in their sterile precision and poise are more coincidence than anything else, entertainment for a collective consciousness that strives to subsume function into form.