Gallery SKE, Bangalore
1) The body of the lion brackets power. The trained, submissive, hunted, still corpse of the lion is a non-site – neither inside nor outside. The purpose of the lion is not to guard the building, but rather to say that our power exceeds that of the lion, the lion is nothing, for us it is a docile cat, decoration.
2) But this repetition of a symbol, opens the contradictory possibilities of both reiterating and fortifying the power represented, and antithetically, of exhausting and devaluing its representational potential.
3) It is the play between the brackets and the bracketed entity – A triptych is 2 + 1- a play that expands infinitely outward and changes the meaning of each and the relationships between them over time. As societies change, as powers shift, as palaces become museums and churches become fortresses the lions remain.
4) They are empty signifiers that stand in for the unknown and therefore fearful, and yet they are tame in front of the camera.
5) Photographs transforms the world into an inventory of images.
6) A photograph presents the world as if it were already known. But this is the opposite of understanding which starts with not accepting the world as it looks. All possibility of understanding is rooted in the ability to say no.
8) How then to disturb the photograph, to unhinge this infinite regress of brackets, to scrape the skin of the image?
9) After the bankruptcy of MGM, what happens to Leo? – MGM’s first production, the 1924 film He Who Gets Slapped, opened with a lion who did not roar. A kind of death mask.
Gregory to Sherlock Holmes: “Is there any other point, to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Sherlock Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
10) To shoot is to sublimate the body. To transform material into image. Image into symbol. But the skin of the image, the specter of the body still asserts itself. Behind its hide it hides.
11) To shoot is to destroy the body. To transform body into cadaver. Cadaver into skin. But the hide, the trace of the body still asserts itself.
A triptych is 2 + 1 and its collapsing center sucks in the brackets. A loop of cancellation is also a loop of assertion. A contingent unstable assertion that is both image and surface. Leo was already a specter before MGM’s bankruptcy awaiting a body to inhabit.