Mourningstar is described as “An exploration of the ideas of the fallen angel, the vengeful god, and the diverse perceptions of Lucifer in various religious and social traditions. A virtual pilgrimage, proposing an alternate mythology…”
An immersive installation by Anahera (Fox Nacht), Mourningstar is in three parts – theological, Romantic and (for want of a better term) “present day”. Literary, theological and practical references are to be found throughout, making for an interactive piece. On arrival, do take a moment to read the notes on how best to full appreciate the installation.
The pilgrimage starts in the theological: a heavenly walk towards the upraised hand of God, culminating with a quote of Isaiah 14:12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! And thus we, too are cast down to the ground, landing amidst a litter of broken angel wings within a ruined landscape – a reminder that around a third of the heavenly hosts fell with Satan – within a landscape.
Through this grey engraving of a landscape lie a series of paths marked by arches. One continues the theological theme, taking us to the Tree of Knowledge. But here, as with the celestial hand above, a question mark is thrown over God’s role in things. In the heavens, the hand of God has strings attached to fingers and thumb, suggestive of a puppet master, while at the Tree of Knowledge, we are asked to ponder What sort of father would deny his children knowledge?
The remaining paths through the landscape encompass the great 19th Century Romantic era of poetry, encompassing an extract from Alfred de Vigny’s 1824 tripartite poem, Éloa, ou La sœur des anges (Éloa, or the Sister of the Angels), which offers Satan as capable of love, but unable to deny his own twisted nature, thus drawing the one who loves him – an innocent young angel – Éloa, down into hell.
Also to be found here are images of the great English Language Romantics – Blake, Bryon, Coleridge, and Mary and Percy Shelley. According to Ruben Van Luijk, writing in Children of Lucifer: Origins of Modern Religious Satanism, these Romantics were spurred on by Milton’s Paradise Lost to see Satan as the ultimate rebellious hero, a champion of individual freedoms in an age of increasing political and social constraint.
One final path remains, one perhaps not so easily seen. It lies to one side of the reading area where visitors can delve into the writings of Blake, Byron and Milton. It leads to a pair of ram’s horns planted in the ground – their meaning clear enough – together with the definitions of “Belief” and “Faith”. A teleport disk before these provides the way to an examination of modern Satanism, with an introduction by Professor Darren Oldridge, and which sharply contrasts with the view of the Romantics.
I’m not so sure Mourningstar is an “alternate mythology” so much as a visual immersion into the theological, philosophical, Romantic and modern interpretations of Satan’s influence on people’s thinking and actions; one which also takes a short, sharp poke at the Christian view of a benevolent God in the process. Wisely, no attempt is made by the artist to direct or lead our thinking. Instead, we are encouraged to explore, examine, consider, and determine for ourselves.
Mourningstar will remain open through until the end of June.
- Mourningstar (Rated: Moderate)