Mpala Tano!

In July 14, 1916, at the Waag Hall in Zurich, Switzerland, a young poet, Richard Huelsenbeck, with his Dada friends of Cabaret Voltaire, pronounced a Maori spell : “Mpala Tano”.

The event took place in the midst of one of the most horrifying disasters that the Western world could inflict onto itself, World War One.
It marked the beginning of Dada.
And an end.

What did that spell predict?
The end of Western civilization?
The revenge of abused people around the world? Of abused Earth itself?
That the spoils accumulated by Western civilization in its museums had to go?
Was that spell a repudiation of our golden identity?

In a slow motion explosion, New York is disappearing in front of our very eyes, from  Dada  to Nini, in just 100 years.

In the Mpala Tano series, New York is under the Cabaret Voltaire Maori Spell, and takes us on a voyage to the other side of the puddle.
From “Looking for Lincoln Tunnel” to the “New York Golden Museums”.

Looking for Lincoln Tunnel at 9th Avenue and 41st Street, Oil on canvas, 31 x 23 inches, 2014. Private Collection

Mpala Tano, Museum of Modern Art, Oil on canvas, 31 x 23 inches, 2015. Private Collection

One sub-set takes us to signs pointing to the Lincoln Tunnel. The other, to New York museums and cultural landmarks. They are reflected in puddles of water, and then flipped to turn them back into an appearance of reality.

I did not find the Lincoln Tunnel. Finding signs pointing to it was enough. I just stayed in Manhattan, and turned my attention to its golden museums. I framed them in gold. The gilt of this last series reveals a certain unease:
Gilded frames are made with raw pine from recycled timber.
The paintings themselves are only reflections in puddles of water. Just a breeze, and they would disappear.
Buildings’ shapes are close to dissolution, monsters seem to be emerging, skies are heavy and menacing.

Do museums still thrive and multiply…? 


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