Jenn Smith: Divine Ventriloquism
December 2, 2018 - January 28, 2019
God’s silence is deafening. But who is to say that it does not scream through existence, that God’s scream is heard if one looks hard enough. Kierkegaard once wrote on the lilies of the field and the bird of the air, that perfection is life-unaware. The birds do as they are supposed to, and the lilies exist without self-doubt. God’s voice is heard through reality, and it is supposed balance. If we are to take this notion further, we see that poetry and beauty are found in that which does not question itself. Perfection is that being which does not sabotage itself because it is confused, it always continues forward to exist through the cacophony of God’s screams. Kierkegaard’s sentiments reflect a disdain towards society, a self-loathing that can only be resolved in ignorance.
Mary Hayes’ book Divine Ventriloquism explores the nature of God’s voice, but through human output. The many voices that encompass it; the clergy, the lay person, images too. Questioning systems that rely on intermediaries to God, one is forced to ask, how lay is the lay person? Is the lay person complicit in the receiving of God’s voice, or does one have the ability to define and understand it through other means? Jenn Smith’s work allows us to recontextualize this idea of divine ventriloquism. Cautious of systems of dissemination, Smith explores what our relationships to the divine potentially entail, for better or for worse.