Vom Wesen des Grundes

Alex Pallí, "Happening" (Happening series). 2010. Acrilic on canvas 146x114.
Alex Pallí. 2010. Acrilic on canvas 146×114.

“Performance is the messianic form of euthanasia I chose.”

By this statement I make as a part of my biography, I testify that my next action is motivated by a need and a decision: the need to die well and the decision to show that the messiah is not someone chosen by god but rather the ones who have such desire and indeed see that possibility in themselves.

The messiah is a mediator between worlds and eras that come together in works such as some paintings by Alex Pallí.

The mediator emerges as a Third person, someone who bears witness:

“At the beginning of testament and testicle there is the idea of third. While this seams logical for a testament that is authenticated by a third (other than its author and its beneficiary), how shall we think thirdness in the case of the testicles, the twin organs? (…) Testament and testicle come from the Latin testis, which means witness. The testament was an oral declaration before the comitia calata, a religious Roman assembly witnessed by the people. The testicle (testiculus) was a little witness of virility (…). And so the one who testifies draws his name from being the third in relation to the two protagonists.” (Odon Vallet, Le honteux et le sacré)

In the Christian tradition, “the Christ is the mediator of a new testament” (Hebrews 9,15), in reference to the Hebrew tradition, where the Torah tablets are also named testament: “You shall put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you” (Exodus 25, 16). However, in the oaths of Abraham and Israel, one literally testifies upon the testicles: “the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham” (Genesis 24, 2), “Jacob called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt” (Genesis 47, 29).

How important is the role of the witness to grant truth authority, to make it credible? The anonymous author of the Apocalypse takes on the identity of the apostle John while using the Greek word “martyria” which means testimony: “in the Apocalypse (…) the subject of testimony (martyria) is bound to the prophetic quality of the message. (…) The testimony must bear witness of what has been seen and heard in order to communicate its prophetic meaning and enact a response of faith.” (Traduction Œcuménique de la Bible, note to Ap. 1,2).

In a post-god world –soon to be post-human– what are we to bear witness to? Isn’t prophetic meaning a fraud? In Wozu Dichter…? (What Are Poets For?), written during World War II, Martin Heidegger suggests: “Perhaps the world’s night is now approaching its midnight. (…) Poets are the mortals who (….) sense the trace of the fugitive gods.” Now that midnight is past and we don’t know what’s the time, art might sense our own traces as they fade into information.

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