The painting, the animation & its soundtrack is an audio-visual meditation about the current state of our western, trumpesque society. Looking at the modern world through the lense of the concept pride. Pride, as one of the 7 deadly sins. This piece explores the duality of „pride“. That sin that is said to trigger all other sins. However, is it even a sin in modern days? Maybe it went from vice to virtue? Or, is it still the root of all evil? Engine of excellence or the onramp to the road of perdition?
False pride translates into pure ego, they say.
While „good pride“ might be the foundation for self-love and real connections to other people? Do we need it?
We are living in times of change – this is the end of an era, but also the beginning of something new.
I wanted to create a protest song, but different. In visuals, motion and sound. Hm hm, how do you call that genre?
The meaning of pride has changed a lot over the centuries. In old english, prÿde means excessive self-esteem. While today, excessive pride (or also narcissism) even seems to be a career enhancing character trait in some industries. Also, the use of the word declined strongly over time. Since 1800 it was barely used, and then ramped up again from 2000 on again which is interesting as it also marks the transition from Generation X to Generation Y / Millenials / Generation Me. I can imagine it was understood purely negative in earlier times, then not so important any more & from 2000 onwards becoming hyped again, plus gaining positive connotations even.
We witness a shift in generations & hence in values around dimensions of „pride“. Each generation seems to float in their own value bubble while I think we would all benefit from more exchange, integretation and mutual respect: We come from the generations of Baby Boomers & Generation X (with values such as work & pragmatism. Finding jobs was hard, reconstructing Europe after WWII was super hard. Consumerism was the reward). Now we have Generation Y / Millenials / Generation Me, which is more idealistic, optimistic, has ambitions and shapes the revolution.They value freedom, teamwork, networking and self-determination. But at the same time, this generation is also labeled to be lazy, narcisstic and spoilt.
When I talk about the west, I say something about the east. The east often has a different concept of community / me. Likewise, you do not see any old people in my painting. Could that be enhanced?
I am interested in creating a modern interpretation of that age old concept – pride. So I wanted to understand what the „old masters“ created before.
Hence, I did some research – here is a bit of what I took from it:
Hieronymus Bosch, The 7 deadly sins and the 4 last things, around 1500: So good, fantastic technique, … love it! But also makes me aware how different these times were. Reflects very well the prevalent power and society patterns back then: All is centered around the concept of punishment, the original sin and the expulsion out of paradise if you don’t follow the strict rules. The apple, Adam and Eve and so on. Since then, the 7 deadly sins lost significance and the church was often accused of hypocracy. It does not wanna fit well in our modern world of hedonism and narcissism. So I wanted to create a more contemporary view, where the individual has the power to take decisions & responsibility. Direct his own life for the good, or the bad, as you please. Maybe take wrong turns and still find the right path?
Pieter Brügel, Superbia (1556/1557), wow – just love this one, so much respect for this artist! Also, I find it quite relevant for my project, as his art now puts the individual in the middle of society (which was unusual before). Brügel was experiencing a change of times – politically and socially! From 1550s onwards, you see humans and their position within society in his art. Those times were cruel, the eve before the 80 years war, when the Netherlands fighted for the Independence of the spanish crown. Executions, inquisition, violence and cruelty were commonplace, happened every day, any where in the streets. Coming from there, I think, our societies nowadays have reached so much. And for our children, we have an obligation of not losing that again. I took some inspiration from his work: Mainly the general idea of all these small details/referencing/symbolism and playing a bit on the surreal side of things which in my opinion is a great tool to challenge creativity, imagination and critical thinking which I consider super important today. I bet these 3 virtues might finally become highly sought after. Really looking forward to that!
Otto Dix, The 7 Deadly Sins (1933): His interpretation, still meaningful. He shows the 7 deadly sins, embodied by a carnivalesque upmarch of the monstrous which leaves a dead world. Probably it is a warning of political disaster. Years later, in 1947, Otto Dix added a Hitler beard to the character of the „pride“. What I find really relevant is that he cites Friedrich Nietzsche – „Die Wüste wächst“ (the desert grows). Which here means that vice is not getting less, vice is getting more. Also, the desert in the sense of nihilism, is the preperation for a new age. A symbol that the old times are over. It is up to each individual to make this change as fast as possible, to create a new age, replace it with better times. Made me wanna create something that is located in the desert. We now live in times of dramatic change again and we need to act. Loads of space for something new. And again, really looking forward to that!
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1931): Another favorite. This book needs no introduction I guess. A dystopian social science fiction novel.
„But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want god. I want sin.“
„In fact,“ said Mustapha Mond, „you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.“
„All right then,“ said the Savage defiantly, „I’m claiming the right to be unhappy!“
Super relevant, our western society creates its own morals (against traditional dogmas of the church), with lots of pleasure addiction, but also more space for more authenticity, still finding the right balance. The individual is also looking for a new spirituality and more „poetry“ in life. And yes, damn – this really resonates with me. Am I the Savage? The unhappy individualist? Which turn to take?
„The Wild West I The End Of An Era“ is dedicated to the duality of the concept pride. The good and the bad parts of it, the love, the fear and the hate. Also, it shows the circle of our actions, or karma. It is a reflection about the current state of our western society, where we all come from (dogma, violence) and where we could go (enlightenment, authenticity, balance, love), if we only want.
Starting from pride, as the cardinal sin – the one that is said to trigger other sins, I also include references to the other deadly sins. Everything is connected.
As main characters I chose American Indians / Native Indians, as a metaphor for pride. Among them, I show 2 sides of pride. I divided the composition in 2 sides, left and right, the left side symbolizes the negative side of pride: Dominated by the warrior. The right side symbolizes the positive, blooming side of pride: The loving mother, where the pride about her children is a necessary energy to bring up the kids in a healthy way.
I located the scene in a desert, as a reference to Nietzsche – we talked about that earlier – that creation of a new age. In the distance you see mountains which in my own little world is a metaphor for „hope“, „home“, „balance“ and „clarity“.
The domino stones stand for the chain reaction and this circle in life (karma): the more narcisissm, the more evil, it multiplies (the petrol station). The more hate, the more hate and so on. Same goes for love, on the right side, love sets us free. You spread more love, there will be more and more love. Love is always the answer. But fear can also be the answer. We have a choice, we are free, we can choose our path. In this very moment though, the times are changing, we need to rethink and act. Decide, which direction to take. It is all in our own hands.
I included many more details, but I will leave those for your own imagination & flavor.
Now, please go ahead and watch the animation.
What do you see, hear, think, feel?
Thanks so much for watching. I am super curious to hear your thoughts!
Was created with a midi keyboard (Arturia Keylab 61) and software Ableton Live. The voice overs are stems that I found in the internet.
Was created 100% digital with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. For more texture I used hand-made textures though.
Was created with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Character Animator.