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The East and West of Zero, 2001, is a smallish diptych around a large topic. The two panels are hung side by side with a three-Inch space of separation. One panel is in the coloration of red, unsettled dust and the other of blue. The conceptual framework is on “ground zero,” the area of the destroyed World Trade Center Towers and was focused after a visit to and around the site. The sense of difference in the east and west of a crisis is dependent on circumstances of location. Left and right in ambulation can also figure in this equation. The left and right of politics, of religion, of psychology, of culture all refer to opposing polarities and are significant differentiations of experience. Considering the World Trade Center disaster, I wondered if having the sight of water for the destroyer or the destroyed modified their experience of it. Is the codification of a feeling dependent on the influence of surrounding factors, or is emotion pure, direct, the one issue at hand? As I think about it, I’m mystified by the range of feeling emanating from the disaster. Is it all individual or collective? As the river is to the east, the blue panel is psychologically passive and cool. As the congested city is psychologically hot and raging, this is symbolized by the red panel west. The three-inch space between the panels represents ground zero. It is all positioned in this way to act as a catalyst for reasoning.
    The reasons why the insane illogic of focused harm (using oneself even as the implement) becomes possible is because of extrahuman considerations. Put religions, or otherworldly manifestations into play, and logic isn’t an issue. When people use supernatural deliberations to implement reality, fantastic imagery from fiction, movies, and religious texts becomes tan- gible and usable. The banality of religious and extraterrestrial concerns reveals the same retarded, backward thinking used in arguments of destructive purpose. Unfortunately we don’t consider religion, nationalism, heroics, or envy as trivial pursuits and, as a result, these societal fictions do real damage.
    The diptych idea has been a continuing intermittent configuration in my painting quest. Beside the tradition of adjoined images throughout art history (from the Egyptians through twentieth century Expressionism), there is for me another incentive, and it stems from the necessities of my form. In trying to represent the condition of totality, I see the possibility of adding on, or even another totality coexisting simultaneously. (I especially feel this working on a reduced-scale format.) So when I set up the diptych predicament, I juxtapose two notions of totality side by side, creating a self-sustaining dialectic, locking the independent actions in place.

The East and West of Zero

The East and West of Zero, 2001
48” x 123” (121.92 cm x 312.42 cm), oil on cotton, diptych, 2 panels 3” separation

 

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© 2012 Kes Zapkus