The following essay appeared in the catalog for the exhibition entitled The Human Condition: Figure Sculpture of Mary Kaye and Geoffrey Koetsch, installed at the ArtSpace Gallery in Maynard MA from February 27 to March 26, 2010.
THE HUMAN CONDITION
We strut, we fume, we signify nothing; our sound and fury smothered by folly and tedium. We have the brains of Ardi and Lucy and fingers that launch nuclear bombs. we are spun from a helical lottery; our patchwork of genes is dumped randomly in time and space. We paint over the profound mystery of existence with the simple mystery of a god who erratically smites and caresses, who composes absurd riddles but answers no questions, but who has the power to generate exquisite spiritual sensations and acts of social goodness in equal measure with doctrinal bickering, social divisiveness and holy war. [If there are any miracles they would be a modern science that has soothed much of what is brutal and painful in life, capitalism, which has freed millions from material need, and the enlightenment, with its brilliant system of laws and the rights of man. Flawed of course, they are man-made miracles, all].
And so Mary Kaye and I are moved to tell our stories: with a penetrating eye, Kaye's Angel gazes in horror at a failed creation. Eve, her mouth burned black by by the apple, sinks into the primeval clay from which she was formed. Adam, in a noble but futile act, swallows the serpent in an attempt to save his partner. Kaye creates characters who are stricken (The Blind King) or burst with brutal rage (Lilith). In Koetsch's The Dance, bodies sway to a libidinous rhythm while a cosmic moon looks on in wry amusement. In Journey to the End of Night, a man–detached and resigned–contemplates the fact of war. He cradles a bowl of oil (material causes of war) and an exploding ball of GI Joes. In Soul Burning at 98 Degrees F another man inhales the fuel that ignites the soul and consumes the body. Our tableau of the human condition tells also of struggles with the phantom unconscious and of bruises sustained in over six decades of life.
But take heart: within this bleak tableau there is power in Singer's saga: there is the self–sacrifice of Adam, the sensual joy of the dance, the spiritual fire of Soul Burning at 98 Degrees F and the thrill of poetry in The Language Instinct.
I am 68, Mary is 73. Out art is that of an old man and an old woman; it is the song of our experience. It is aggressively backward looking. Brancusi said "whatever is new in my art comes from something very old." we are beyond the thrall of technology, bored with gestural virtuosity, formalist gamesmanship and naive visual social science. We spend what time we have left telling our stories.