October 12th – November 12th, 2023
Reception: October 12th 6-9pm
No Gallery – 105 Henry Street #4 NYC NY 10002
Vanity can be cool. A good friend of mine is a body builder. He treats his body like a work of art and I think this partial dissociation of the spiritual, mental, and physical is healthy. But at a certain point, being a bodybuilder is fake. Bodybuilders form their bodies not according to health or strength but according to the way it looks. Tyson Fury is probably one of the toughest and strongest men alive but he looks fat. Anti-aging routines portray a fake liveliness that compensates for a real fear of death. Vanity in that sense is so fake it’s real.
When you go in the supermarket to buy a steak, can you say for sure what that steak actually is? Something about a puck of red goo shrink-wrapped to a foam pad is fake, but the cow was real and so is the strength it provides. When you eat a cow you should feel its death transform into your life while you consume it. You should feel grateful. Maybe the pleasure of eating steak is a kind of evolved gratitude.
Everyone senses that the world is fake but was probably real in the past. The pharmaceutical industry harvests the mass dissatisfaction with our lacking culture by feeding people socially acceptable heroin. Pills like OxyContin, Darvon, and Percocet have powerful psychosomatic consequences but look like candy. People lack faith in the world and so they are numbed with fake pleasure.
Vanity is an avoidance of death as an inevitability. Eating is the persistence of death in life. Getting numb high is an impermanent death, a kind of fake freedom from the suffering of life. But life is not mere survival. There are three kinds of living: wanting to die, not wanting to die, and not wanting to die but accepting that you will. There are two kinds of death: one that’s guaranteed, and one that’s optional. The optional death is death in life. Are you dead in life?
Text by Grant Tyler