Jim Carter

Perhaps I am an artist befitting Hillman’s definition - one who dwells in an age of anxiety, living unprotected from the never-ending challenge of uncertainty. Artist: ‘angelos of anxiety, the fearful.’ For in the midst of growing unease, I imagine my future work emerging from a deeper place in the gut: praxis of viscera that makes fewer apologies for its preoccupation with death. To this ritual system I will add my own body, sacrifice my own self as an initiatory act of betrothal to the earth; something akin, do doubt, to Seamus Heaney’s who, as a young boy 'stripped to the white country skin and bathed in a moss-hole, treading the liver-thick mud, unsettling a smoky muck off the bottom and coming out smeared and weedy and darkened. We dressed again and went home in our wet clothes, smelling of the ground and the standing pool, somehow initiated.'

Richard Bradley suggests that ancient objects suffer in translation when they provide models for contemporary artists unconcerned with their primary role. In my work, all roads lead to an ending beyond making which is deposition in the soil. The gallery system is but a hiatus on the journey, a breathing space, if you will, in preparation for dormition. For I need to be unequivocal: my audience is the dead or the injured; I make things for the land, for the soil and the water; or else it is for myself where I now stand at the extremity of my knowledge of life.

Perhaps my work is what Bataille calls the common business of sacrifice, that is, to bring life and death into harmony, ‘to give death the upsurge of life, life the momentousness and the vertigo of death opening onto the unknown.’ Bataille uses the example of an abattoir animal to emphasise death as this critical instant in time. The butcher sees the dying animal in terms only of its commercial value; for others, it merges with the human because the distinction between object and subject has been lost. Such slaughter, however, does not figure as sacrifice because the animal does not experience a sacrament or apotheosis.

The point is that sacrifice should ultimately show the emergence of a unity of the separated parts of man, and such is my aim when in the coming winter Lindow is interred with his song of empathy and suffering. Into the soil: ‘great connector of lives, the source and destination of all […] healer and restorer and resurrector.’ For, after all, the injuries, burnings and burials, they are not gestures concerned with aesthetics: they are a making sacred; this work of my hands, of the effigy and the word, it is not art: it is salvation.