My title refers, of course, to the employment of a Turner Prize entrant, Cornelia Parker, as Artist for the General Election this year. Apparently she has said that the employment, in her view, is rather like that of a court jester (or fool) in times past.
Her work is, I think, mostly Sculptural. I have not seen any of her work first-hand (at least I don’t think so). What I have seen (photographs) includes some beautiful and complex compositions – one being an “exploding shed”. I am wary of placing any photos of her work [copyright] in this article but offer a link:
A few things have struck me about this marriage of art with politics. First, it was usual for artists to be employed by rich rulers [the Medici family for example] during the Renaissance. It was an exciting and challenging time for artists. Then, there was an amalgam of religious leaders, rich rulers and great artists. The employment of an adventurous artist, with a brief to produce an art work depicting something about the character of this year’s election, repeats the complex relationship experienced by Michelangelo, Raphael, and others, some 500 years ago. Second, I have discovered that it is possible to buy an exploding shed! I think it has something to do with producing sound waves.
Third, my curiosity is aroused about Cornelia Parker seeing herself in the role of a “court fool”. Does she mean that she is merely entertaining her employers? Or is she referring to the Shakespearian “fool” [as Feste in Twelfth Night] who is the mind and intelligence beneath the plot?
Fourth, I am reminded that the apostle Paul described himself as a “fool”. It was in Christ’s employment that he was willing to take that role and engage in the foolish art of preaching.
1Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
Surely, it is absurd to think that preaching will make any difference to the way humans live and move and have their being – but it does! More than works of Art can move and influence our thinking, the message of Christ, dying for our sins and rising from the dead with hope, joy and love on offer can still change the world!