The Angel – a sublingual artificial death note

This almost happened. We tried to make it happen but it broke halfway through the installation. It is very big and unwieldy. It is difficult and mentally taxing to put a large hunk of bronze someplace it isn’t expected and wouldn’t normally go. The angel was in part modelled on the Winged Victory of Samothrace, but that’s because if you’re committing an art prank you have to start somewhere and stealing from the best is still considered style in some locations — although the very idea of location is beginning to lose its efficacy.

One enjoys poor health the way one enjoys bad weather. At times one believes that something is larger than one but finds that one is still alive in most meaningful ways and the very act of being alive makes interesting events and objects, however large, small in our attention. I suspect that I won’t be able to pay proper attention to things until after I’m dead, but even Tom Waits is a bit worried about paying attention to things after he’s dead and likely he’ll enjoy not being mistaken for Ron Perlman after he’s dead, if enjoyment still obtains.

The angel was a commentary on the state of being nowhere, a state for which a word exists: nullibiety. I was asked once, before the angel snapped in half thanks to shoddy craft and crushed me under its pointy hem, under what circumstance one could use such a word and my response is that when you need a manager to sign a fucking check at 4:30 on a Friday you can be pretty much guaranteed of their nullibiety. Angels however are supposedly everywhere, and grand, and don’t show everything they’ve got on the first date, if you know what I mean, but you can wrestle at least some of them. The angel is also partly modelled on that gent sketched about a hundred and fifty years ago who got stolen by Led Zeppelin and we all know those Magickal Sods only stole from the best, so that’s what we decided to do. I just wish this angel, as immobilized as it now appears, had chosen not to duel me, with gravity as its second, because I can feel my crushed life escaping and only my faithful amanuensis – who just sort of wandered up with a notebook after my sibling pranksters all messed off – is helping me, and I’m not convinced he’s not just some rando who doesn’t even speak English, not that that matters of course.

I am somewhat proud of how much effort all this took. First we stole all the bronze statues denoting victories of colonialism, i.e., almost all of them, and believe me there’s nothing like using a thermal lance for the first time with metre long sparks coming out everywhere and there you are thinking you’d love to be entirely covered in moose hide right about now. The horse, cut off at the hocks, falls; you have to be careful that the guy with the sword doesn’t impale you as he tips. Then we’re like (Easter(thepeopleofRapaNui)Islanders) walking the go(ahu)d to his spot except that instead of a dirty great rock we’re trying to move hot bronze across public squares at night and candidly that is how you draw the attention of the police, but we stole a bunch of equestrian statues because the only art is decolonizing art, that much is true in these parlous times.

The angel’s wings hide frightened children. Some are wearing school uniforms, some traditional clothing, some are wearing Uggs and bunnyhugs. Very Canadian. There is a set of empty moccasins walking down one wing; art made by committee is never as good as what you get from a single glorious bullshit decorticated Emily Carr grad. The Great Man Theory of Art, which is a special category of temporally imprecise nonsense. Or Woman. We’re not supposed to judge and yet look at us, how we do, all the racist NDNs w h o is t h e r e e e e al rac (it’s racist) now all the women who hate women all the grown men who hate children, how we puff ourselves up with hate like a frigatebird with its red chest balloon in the mating season. Hear the wild, high voices of women, not exactly in harmony, more like coyotes all trying to yip at the same time, and it is beautiful music but most people don’t like it and they want the animals trapped and removed. As for the rest it’s not racism if you’re getting paid for it. It’s not racism. There’s good work in rationalizations, sometimes you can even get paid for it, lackey to the outworn and sputtering old-man-smelling last-effortful-gasp of capitalism, which we’re stuck with because no one seems to have any fucking imagination any more. We’ve stuck him on a ventilator and we’re partying in the next room hoping for sandwiches but what we want is a cure for capitalism; that fairy won’t appear until we get a grip on how tiny the earth is. I’m sorry; all my metaphors are mixed like my blood with the leafmold and street dust on this nasty bit of concrete.

It doesn’t matter where we put it. Colonialism and its handmaiden multiculturalism will continue to make bad art. We won’t know why until we rip it all out, or let vines cover it. No one is in love with this stuff – it’s just the least worst, the stuff that gets grabbed off the shelf because edgy art always ends up hurting people’s feelings. In this case, I’m dying of it, but it’s what I deserve, apparently, melting down a warhorse and his tiresome rider into something marginally less witless. Goodbye world and don’t forget that gravity will always be a bigger enemy than time.

Published by


Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

Leave a Reply