I went to the Sunday afternoon opening of Richard Grayson’s The Golden Space City of God at Matt’s Gallery (42-44 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR) on 10 May. Some drapes and stacked chairs, designed to make the gallery look like a community space, formed a minor part of an installation. The main item was a 45 minute film of a choir singing a libretto that had been assembled by Grayson from writings he’d found on the website of Christian fundamentalist cult The Family International (formerly The Children of God And The Family of Love). The music is composed by Leo Chadburn.
The content of the libretto is bog standard Christian fundamentalist bollocks based on The Book of Revelation. Given that The Family started out as a hippie cult you get a few space-age trimmings, but nothing that would surprise anyone who knows the first thing about the forces that potentially threaten the liberty of those who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool religious nuts. The Family view current events as demonstrating that Tribulation has arrived; i.e. the period when Christians are persecuted and the Anti-Chirst rules. According to those that believe this rot, following on from this comes the Battle of Armageddon, at the conclusion of which Christ defeats the Anti-Christ and faithful Christians are rewarded with everlasting life in heaven in the form of The Rapture. The insane beliefs which form the core of Grayson’s libretto are well known outside Christian circles; hence, for example, the jokey title of Blondie’s huge 1981 hit single Rapture.
Despite widespread allusions to Christian fundamentalist eschatology in both popular and underground culture (see also, for example, the books and films of The Church of The SubGenius), Andrew Brighton in an essay accompanying the Matt’s Gallery exhibition suggests: “Richard Grayson’s shocking achievement is to bring into the cultural and institutional frame of modern art such a dangerously hostile set of ideas, values and prophecies as offered in The Golden Space City of God and persuade us to hold or consider or at least comprehend them…”
Aside from the blatant stupidity of this statement – since anyone with an interest in the world around them or even just recent American popular culture, should be familiar with Christian fundamentalist beliefs – it is also rather rich coming from an ignoramus like Andrew Brighton. This former Senior Curator at Tate Modern is a complete tosser with a long history of blocking from entry into the institution of art anything that disturbs his bourgeois views. Like most liberals, Brighton claims to be defending enlightened and democratic values, which in practice leads to the suppression of free and open debate. To give just one example, he personally blocked an essay about me by Richard Marshall from appearing in Critical Quarterly on the grounds that I stand for the destruction of everything he holds dear. If you want to read the essay, it was subsequently posted on the 3AM Magazine website.
Returning to Grayson, his libretto certainly amused one of the women who sang it, you can see her lips curling upwards and her eyes twinkling when she doesn’t have to sing. I’m sure many other members of the choir felt the same way about the work they were performing, although most are so focused on their singing that they aren’t able to smile. Since I didn’t have to do anything more than watch the film of this choir, I was able to give vent to a good belly laugh while I was at Matt’s Gallery. And I’m sure many other visitors to Grayson’s installation will laugh long and loud too.
The installation set-up resulted in it being difficult to spend much time speaking to people at the opening. I clocked the likes of Andrew Brighton and Mark Wallinger but didn’t exchange any kind of pleasantry with them and wouldn’t want to. I did say ‘hi’ and little else to Andrew Wilson and Ingrid Swenson, among others.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!