Four coordinates

x:            The picture is a photographic reproduction of Michelangelo’s creation scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The 842 megapixel image has been rendered using a single short-chain hydrocarbon nanoparticle for each pixel, allowing the high-resolution detail of the image to be captured in a rectangular area 0.8×1.2 mm. Pixel coloration has been achieved by doping the hydrocarbon chains with metal ions. The pixels were deposited using laser-excitation unipolar discharge techniques onto a silicon matrix slightly larger than the image, which was subsequently mounted on the canvas with superglue.

y:            A speck of fly shit. The canvas, primed but otherwise virgin, was on display in the Jamhuriya University in Mogadishu, where it was intended to be used by the artist Meti Afila Mtabela in an artistic performance protesting the repression of Mushunguli tribespeople by the Somali majority. The performance was aborted by the untimely death in his own home of Mtabela, who was among the casualties of a US military drone strike purportedly aimed at an alleged IS cell. The canvas has been preserved as a memorial to the plight of dispossessed peoples everywhere. The sandfly is an endemic pest species in Somalia, a vector in the spread of malaria, dengue fever and kalaazar, diseases that kills thousands of Somalis every year, mostly among the rural poor.

z:             This painting, Premier Xi unfolds the truth of universal happiness and love under the benign path of Chinese communism, by the Peruvian artist Gabriel Igbo Asunción, is considered the definitive example of redactivism. In redactivist practice, the artist first realises her/his subject matter in honest and comprehensive detail and then redacts (ie, masks) all elements that potentially arouse the sensitivities of the ruling political hegemony or its opponents. X-ray analysis of this canvas reveals that the artist painted an elaborate panorama of modern China incorporating set pieces from its history since the revolution, now almost entirely hidden beneath the white redactive surface.

t:             Satyawati Imritsol used a single bovine eyelash to paint this microportrait of the Holy Cow of Khajuraho being dissected by masked assassins with piglike tails, an inflammatory artistic gesture that would see her imprisoned or possibly garrotted in her home state of Madhya Pradesh. Since 1968, Imritsol has lived abroad. Born into a wealthy and cosmopolitan Sikh family, Imritsol briefly studied photonutrition under Fonce in Budapest, before his untimely death. She then worked as an amanuensis for the Romanian biologist Ana Aslan, before a chance encounter with the works of Georges Seurat awakened her creative vocation. Imritsol is a singularly painstaking artist. This is her only known work.

Summary: The work in question is a dot near the centre of a large canvas. Four explanations are offered (x, y, z, t), each one a coordinate in the four dimensional space-time continuum of art. Collectively they locate the work in its geopolitical and cultural space. That is the point.

[From: An exegetical egg: curatorial notes to An unseen exhibition]

painting
Detail from ‘Four coordinates’ (magnification X 100).

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