‘Misery’, 9″ X 12″, acrylic on canvas, 2011.
One of the first sketches for a large canvas continuing the theme of ‘Greed, Hunger and Misery’ that I have been working on since 1993.
I suppose its really more of a dining nook. Its never used as either a room or a nook. Most of the time its just another flat surface to pile things onto. I usually eat at my workbench in front of my computer. The radiation helps keep the food warm you see. I was eating soup and watching the BBC news. Another famine taking place in Africa. Which is actually the same famine they were shouting about in 2010, but had forgotten about for a while. They showed a child that had been receiving treatment for 3 months. Nobody wants to shock anyone out of their immediate concerns. Someone said feeding the poor wasn’t the answer anyway. It seems to have become the creed of everyone that doesn’t want to look. The ones that don’t want to pay. The ones that want a new iPad. Every 3 months or so, whenever the OS is updated. Look, there’s a brand new game app, but you have to have the newest phone, pad, laptop or it doesn’t work. Shortly following the breaking news that the famine was still happening, the newest breaking news was the IMF seeking to increase its funds (borrow) by $500 billion or so. A trillion would be better, of course. They need it to FEED the European economy. And there I was thinking that an economy is a lifeless inanimate object idea created by humanity to avoid paying its bills. I had no idea the European economy was suffering a famine too. A famine of stuff, they hadn’t enough money to pay for more stuff.
So I twisted my mind inside out to remember some of my anthropology from university several years ago. I recalled some African studies classes, a study of the caloric intake of the various countries around the globe. It was approximately 1999, aeons ago. The average human needs roughly 2000 calories per day, this changes by how enormous you are and how little exercise you engage in. At the time the average caloric intake per capita in Canada was 4500. In sub-Saharan Africa the average was 1150. Google to the rescue, what is that today I demanded of the page. And amazingly enough found that Canadians had decided they were too fat and had reduced their caloric intake to a mere 3506 calories per day. Also amazing was the glitzy interactive graph showing that all the countries of Africa had improved their diets to over 2000 calories per day. And most amazing of all was Somalia with a staggering 2350 calories per day. Really, I thought, am I missing something here. Maybe there are a few people who are eating 100,000 calories a day. Or is all the famine talk wrong. Who is measuring what? Where was this study done? Or could this be one of the years when grain prices are just low enough to send all the grain the west promised over the past 5 years all at once. They are measuring the caloric intake by how many calories we decide to send them, all at once.
‘Greed’, 36″ X 60″, oil on canvas, 2010-2011.
‘More’, 30″ X 40″, oil on canvas, 1996.
Again and again and again.
Economist politicians, can’t feed you right now, they have important bills to pay. Their computers want cash this time. Can you wait until October? They will give two times as much rice as you need, but not until October, maybe November. Here, have some bullets and guns instead, defend your razor wire borders from intruders looking for food, oil, slaves, whatever. You need tear gas, ok, lots of that going around for cheap. No water though. Sorry. Maybe next year. Can you wait until next year? Everything will be better then. They guarantee it.
‘Brocolli Corn and Tomatoes’, 11″ X 14″, watercolour, 2011.
Sitting on the railing of the balcony of my cell atop the ivory tower at the centre of the universe I noticed some farmers in the park across the highway. I must paint some vegetables, I said to no one in particular. A request was immediately sent to the warden of the tower. Just this once, she said, and don’t you dare speak to any humans about what you do or don’t know about anything! Is that clear? Of course, I replied. I dashed quickly across the highway between the giant rolling mobile entertainment machines where I traded a spherical ball of aluminum I had made from the cigarette packaging I was not supposed to have for a bunch of broccoli. What are you doing? One of the humans squeaked as it approached. I could tell from the pitch of the voice it was a female. I had to be cautious, they befuddle me. Painting the vegetables in the park! I wondered if she understood what I meant. Really! she quipped excitedly, Most people eat them you know! Why would anyone eat broccoli. I jabbed back. She handed me other vegetables to add to my pile. Here, have some corn and tomatoes. You look hungry. Where are you from? I was wearing my uniform and thought it was obvious where I was from, but pointed across the road and up at the top of the ivory tower. Up there! I said. I don’t normally come this close to the ground but I saw the farmers. Are you okay? Up there? She didn’t look up there at all, most humans don’t, look up that is. I thought briefly about saying NO! but quickly decided against it. I could hear the wardens keys jangling in my inner ear. Yes its fine up there. I’d better go before I say something your not supposed to know. Her face went blank. I’d said the wrong thing. What do you mean? She clearly didn’t want an actual answer so I told her I have to go make some soup now. Oh, yes, she was relieved, I thought you said something else. No, I replied, just the soup thing, thats all, do you hear a jangling noise? Its the traffic on the highway, she whispered into my face. So I threw all my paints and vegetables into my plastic bag and ran away across the road. Car horns jangling like keys in my face. The warden was at the gate so she let me in. What’s that?, she said pointing to my plastic bag of stuff.
Broccoli! I replied. I’m going to make soup.
Nobel prize winner in 1965 for his work on quantum electrodynamics.
From the Messenger Lecture series 1964. ‘The character of physical law.’
I was really crappy in maths etc., but for some reason I understand physics when this man speaks.