Future of Religions 72X54" Acrylic and india ink on plasticised paper (hover and scroll to zoom)
In 2007, I saw a picture of President Bush posing with an Iraq war veteran. The veteran had obviously suffered some horrible fate by way of a roadside bomb or IED. All that remained of his face was two eyes and a mouth. The skin, hair, and nose were all gone. I found it strange that he was happily posing with the man who had sent him to this fate. It was quite a photo (op).
I don’t understand some people's’ need for organized hierarchy, and authority figures, or to be in a binary system of belief or truth where everything is black and white to make marketing bad ideas easier. When someone, especially those with power, say they have “the” answer I certainly think they are part of the problem.
In the painting we see a powerful religious figure whose stage name is Sochristophalies. He is greeting and giving solace to a veteran who has suffered fighting for some cause. He now has an artificial… well, everything. He is so destitute that he has sold 3 of his 4 fake limbs for booze: booze which he can no longer taste, but has to pour into his feeding tube, to be processed in his stomach cavity which has sprung a leak at the bottom. It is unknown whether he has actually come to see the great Sochristopalies, or if he was just wandering through in a stupor when he ran into him. Sochristophalies is about to take the stage.
It is a time when each neighborhood has its own fanatic religion, each inciting its followers into warring with every other one. Out-and-out war between the neighborhood religions has for the most part subsided, due to the damage done by previous engagements and the fact that no one now retains the knowledge of how to repair anything. The main act of wounding their neighbors is to assassinate their high religious figure. The church in the neighborhood two blocks away has tried to get around this by dressing every follower in the garments of a high priest.
In the background there is an audience clamoring for a view or a touch of their savior. Yet even with all this power, his underlings are fiercely battling to keep him on schedule; a man heatedly points to his watch, the stage manager is shouting to his underlings, a grey-skinned woman grumpily clasps her scheduling tablet. Even in all his totalitarian powers (at least in his own neighborhood) he is a slave to a team of people whose primary goal is to keep the illusion of his power alive and well. It has a nice cosmic symmetry to it.
Sochristophalies is surrounded by security. His private secret service agents are equipped with two sets of eyes, one pair always underneath sunglasses. The rest are the last vestiges of anything resembling a police force. They are a private company called “The Secure Men”, who attempt to keep the peace between the neighborhoods during church services.
Betrayal from within the groups is a constant problem. Underlings are always crawling and clawing their way to the top of the trash heap. Getting infiltrators into an opponent's church service has always proven easy. (See if you can find the assassins lurking in the shadows.) Even their army of surveillance rats can do little to stem the trespassing. Surveillance rats, though cheap to train, are easily distracted by their surroundings.