CREATION IS DESTRUCTION
THE INABILITY TO OVERCOME THE NARCISSISTIC UNIVERSE
Creation is Destruction
The Narcissistic Mirror &
The Inability to Overcome the Narcissistic Universe
Narcissus, a beautiful young man, saw himself mirrored in the surface of a lake.
He fell in love with the image on the water, without realising that he was actually looking at his own reflection.
Reaching down to get as close as possible to his absolute love, he fell into the water and drowned in the lake. The world wept, because beauty was lost. The lake also mourned, even though it was the only thing Narcissus had ever looked at. However, the lake did not mourn Narcissus’ death, but rather the loss of its own reflection in Narcissus’ eyes.
Narcissus’ failure to recognise his love as a reflection of himself caused his death. Although the lake was also in love with its own reflection, it was aware of itself as the object of its own desire.
Franzen uses this mythological tale to demonstrate the role of and the relationship between artist, artwork and observer. The interconnection can be understood psychologically, sociologically, philosophically and scientifically.
Franzen’s ‘narcissistic mirror’ draws the observer of the artwork into this dynamic interplay of perception. Standing in front of the shiny surface, the reflection of the observer changes the appearance of the artwork. What the observer is not aware of, is that the artwork is also reflected in his eyes. Just as the lake was not in love with Narcissus, the artwork is not at all interested in the observer, or even the artist. The artwork simply demands attention. It is not interested in what the artist or the observer thinks and feels.
In its role as a mirror, the artwork provides the artist and the observer with the means to perceive themselves. The mirror is the symbol of man´s ability to reach a state of self-reflection and self-consciousness. In this it is also the pure symbol of narcissism; it allegorizes the fact that everything we perceive is just a reflection of ourselves.
It is a physical impossibility for the artist, the observer and the artwork to share the same space-time. Furthermore, the observer and the artist only see themselves, unable to see anything other than what they know or perceive from their own socio-cultural, polit-economical background and point of view.
The conclusion here is that not one of them is even close to understanding the other. Furthermore, Franzen claims that the whole universe is a mirror and narcissistic in its very nature. It is therefore inevitable that we are all trapped in the Inability to overcome the Narcissistic Universe.
The square format of the artwork is symbolic of our limited and constructed understanding of the world, while the gold refers back to the narcissistic nature of this understanding. Throughout history, gold has been the most important and craved for symbol of unattainable wealth and power. It stands for glorification, godliness, iconism and idolatry, but also for perverted decadence and kitsch.
Destroying the narcissistic mirror is a symbolic ritual act. It is an iconic representation of the need to break through the very thin, square, golden and glorified perception of our narcissistic reality.
In a contemporary context, art can be seen as the most modern icon of narcissistic idolatry. The artwork, as mentioned above, is not interested in anything else other than being perceived and getting attention. It’s not interested in the art-market, the observer or even the artist himself.
In this time of contemporary hyper-individualism, globalisation, mass-media technologies, economically orientated ‘civilisation’ and the excessive, eccentric art-market, Franzen sees a pressing need to overcome our glorified, blinding reflection of ourselves. The mirror carrying our reflection must be destroyed and purged; purged in order to heal. Franzen’s concept responds to the longing to break through unworldly and artificial reflection to discover the world behind the mirror: the new, unknown, unseen nothingness.
By destroying the mirror - and consequently making us aware that it is a mirror we are looking at - Franzen aims to further self-perception into self-recognition and -consciousness. It is his intention to penetrate the boundaries of our perceived reality and existence, to look behind the veil of Narcissus’ illusion of being both separated and in love with his reflection in the lake.