The Penal Colony


“The law which a condemned man has violated is inscribed on his body with the Harrow. " Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony

This series began by considering the interplay of curved edges on curved surfaces, such as in a folding chair, whose six planar faces could unfold into a cross. The crucifixion chair began as a mockery of my fundamentalist Christian upbringing, but became something more vulnerable and compelling in development. The sequence of objects that followed combines my childhood experiences, Bible stories, myths of other cultures, and contemporary beliefs in a dense symbolic narrative. When I imagined the Dagon piece, the open book temple roof suggested that I could write poems, and later song lyrics, upon these objects. Writing on the surfaces brought to mind that wonderful Kafka story, itself an embodiment of authoritarian fundamentalist terror, at which my objects and experiences only hint. After a few pieces, I decided to follow my belief that poetry should be sung, so i began writing and singing the poems as songs. I cose to end the series at twelve pieces, although that is not penance enough.

Penal Colony, 2009, acrylic on panel, 13x17”