Review: Georgetti’s Carnivalesque
At first sight it could be some kind of gigantic insect larvae, a creature in the process of embryogenesis, a pupa of some monstrous creature waiting to hatch. The heat of the lights bares down on it, encouraging some bizarre striptease, either a hatching or the beginning of an autopsy. It seems alive, glistening and oozing. It hints at H.R. Giger’s Alien pods or David Cronenberg’s matter transporters in The Fly.
As its skin begins to peel away like the gradual dissolution of a burn victim, one realises that Michael Georgetti’s hatchling has a purpose. Hovering somewhere between the sacred and the profane the waxy surface proves to be the inverse ghost of edifice, a macabre cathedral from the nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft, a temple of Set, an excess of gothic imagination, self-carving, undergoing gradual, intentional immolation, its sepulchral skin sliding like oozing spermatozoa to finally give birth to an alien architecture.
A darkened halo hovers above this macabre operating table, the holiness of the edifice already tainted with hints of the occult as 700 kilos of gelatinous skin ooze gradually down its sides. This is the inverse of structure making. With its semi-organic dripping and oozing it is Buckminster Fuller on seriously bad acid. With its biomorphic hints there are unconscious nods to Le Corbusier’s Chapel at Ronchamp and Gaudi’s concrete madness in Spain, to Heironymous Bosch’s fungal shelters and Salvador Dali’s Premonition of Civil War.
Michael Georgetti has always done this. An artist of the avant grunge, he seems to relish following in the footsteps of Andre Breton who, in his second manifesto of surrealism, stated; “the approval of the public is to be avoided like the plague.” Still a young artist, he has assailed his audiences with tennis balls and hockey sticks. He has utilised chewing gum, clothes racks, an apple impaled by arrows and melting birthday candles. His kinetic installations hover in a netherworld between detritus and delicacy, abandonment and hope.
This latest work sits like a archeological sample of the architecture of Gormenghast or Gotham, a pseudo-gothic cathedral from an alternate dimension. One cannot but help wonder what God is to be worshiped within its waxy confines, its skeletal remains oozing with ectoplasmic goo or frozen sperm.
It is tempting to describe Georgetti’s weird mis en scenes in terms of the Carnivalesque, a term coined by Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin in his theory of carnival in medieval culture. Bakhtin argued that folk celebrations, which allowed for rowdy humor and the parody of authority, offering the oppressed lower classes relief from the rigid feudal system and the domineering church. The carnivalesque blatantly celebrated the grotesque elements of authority and encouraged the temporary “crossing of boundaries” where the town fool would be crowned, the higher classes were mocked, and societal differences were erased as their shared humanity – the body – became the subject of crude humor.
The late-medieval Feast of Fools, an event organised by young clergy who would elect a Bishop of the Fools and adorn themselves with back-to-front vestments, hold the missal upside down, dance and drink in the church, sing obscene songs and insult the congregation. Their ‘bishop’, dressed in full regalia, would deliver nonsense prayers and sermons and march backwards in procession.
Perhaps Georgetti’s wax is the flesh of some primeval god re-emergent. He is not the first contemporary artist to play with melting objects, nor the first to utilise wax as a media. But he may well be the first to spawn a new religion.