ON AN ART WHICH IS ARTEMISIAN


    Often it has been spoken that Art and its appeal to our senses and sensibilities relate to qualities represented by the ancient Hellenic (Greek) gods. The common dichotomy of Apollo & Dionysus for example, has been used to describe two essential foundations for perceiving the intent, nature and our attraction to different kinds of art. This dichotomy seems rather simple to grasp as well: we have Apollo, who represents the solar, illuminating quality of reason and an implied more "noble" pursuit, and then we have Dionysius, the alleged figure representing debauchery, excess and the physical pleasure of art. Without disputing the general nature of these mythological characters, there seems to be at least one major component missing from this binary proposition.

    Whereas since at least in modern times we have individuals like Jung to thank for expanding our understanding of the various components of the human psyche, what we are missing from this picture is a figure who represents an approach and an understanding of Art as it relates to emotion, feeling, the subconscious, the hidden, the unspoken. Classically speaking, the dichotomy of components which constructed the overall psyche were not the Sun and the realm of physical sensation, which instead was simply the receptacle of Earth, but rather the two which represented a polarity and a duality and expressed the “inner genders”, or the hermaphroditic qualities, of the individual: the Sun and the Moon.

    The true counterpoint to Apollo therefore should not be Dionysus, who instead represents a kind of transformation of experience through an alteration of the physical senses, but rather one who represents the Moon. And although there are several goddesses in the ancient mythologies who represent the Moon, there is certainly no better figure to choose as to represent the Moon other than Apollo’s own twin sister, the goddess Artemis. Apollo the Sun, and Artemis the Moon, the former representing reason and illumination and latter for the reflection of reason, the night, hidden reason or subconscious reason. Stemming from the Persian root of *arta, *art, *arte, all which mean "great, excellent, holy," it would seem no less appropriate that Artemis should stand to exemplify the qualities of greatness and excellence of the unknown realms produced and explored by Art- by jurisdiction of this Goddess of the hunt, of nature hidden in the night and of the wilderness.

    In Art, we can determine these qualities of Artemis to be those which preside over an interior, reflexive state of experience forming the second half of our experience in relation to things existing in the world, alongside our faculties of rationality, reason, observation or pragmatism. This can also be extended to those things which exist beneath the surfaces of things, those things which are often inexplicable and those which we seek to uncover. These qualities can be applied to ideas, environments or psychological spaces which are implied yet are left unspoken, things that are left omitted and not spelled out, yet having traces remaining perceptible and with emotions which can be felt. In practices of contemporary art today, subjects which deal with the atmospheric, the aesthetic, the metaphysical, the imaginative, the reflective, the artefactual or the archaeological are all qualities which hint at the tendency to uncover the unknown or the hidden, to make or portray something using the “reason” of the subconscious and so become entwined with the nature which forms our understanding of the Artemisian.