Three kinds of time, according to Benjamin: official history, which is homogenous, linear, and belongs to the winners; tradition, which is composed of discontinuous moments lost to official memory; and the time of the now, when those moments can be recalled, in a state of emergency, and put to use in the struggle against the winners’ myths. How much history does each of us possess? Where is our tradition? It might have shrunk to the size of a single life, which would make childhood our only prehistory. Instead of regression, we should see in the return to childhood an attempt to redeem its idols, to save them from the dustbin of official history. They are what we share, a repository of collective memory, fragments from before the fall.
In this prelapsarian realm, polymorphous perversity corresponds to a signifying polyvalence, whose malicious intent, barely sublimated in Bjorn “Panthro” Copeland’s collages, will please your child’s pineal eye as it tickles her solar anus.
Becky Kolsrud (‘Cheetara’) cracked the commodity’s code by going over the lines in a coloring book. The weird symbols she discovered clearly indicate a conspiracy deep in the heart of the Mattel/Disney alliance. These charms against the evil empire lurk within her canvases like a rose’s thorn. Buyer beware! Michael Williams squeezes paint straight from the tube, a sure sign of anal-sadistic tendencies. He is the Lion-O of the group, his confidence oozing in every color of the rainbow. But he can also be withholding, as, for example, when he paints Washington, number one icon of official history. Williams’ stinginess creates parental concern among the patriarchy. Does the poor boy need a laxative? One thing’s for sure: he’ll never fight in Uncle Sam’s army. Blessed with the precocious wisdom of Jaga, Shannon Lucy paints childhood in the faded hues of an old Polaroid, or as futile graffiti on a ripped poster. Here she has rediscovered the joys of the chalkboard, while a sharp framing device reminds us of childhood ‘s distance, the remoteness of its promise. A spot of feral DNA means Sadie Laska’s paintings, though mature, have grown up slightly crooked. They limp and snarl like Jackalman.
The odd, tense relationships in Jie-Liang Lin’s drawings likewise point to a lost wholeness, sought by a wealthy woman in therapy, or an NSPCA volunteer cavorting with a young orangutan. Will these experiments lead to a distressing, even violent outcome? A boy stares at us through glass, a specimen of youth under the microscope. Behind his eyes: innocence, hatred, or just confusion? Was Mumm-Ra merely the expression of a frustrated maternal impulse deprived of its object by our feline heroes’ boy-scout instincts? The mute child becomes a repository of hopes and expectations. How uncanny if we could hear its voice in clear response? What if all it uttered was a list of its favorite foods, like in Oliver Michaels’ piece? An unsettling pupa, still more cat than man, like Snarf. Schrader and Verrill, Wilykit and Wilykat , historicize the official accoutrements of the family unit. The obscure demands that dictate changes in this micro-technology resonate with the hidden powers that bind the family from within. As the two youngest ThunderCats, they are like incestuous enfants terribles, bent on destroying the family from the inside.