The international art world is at a standstill without an influx of a new ideology arising from a neo-modernist movement. There are identifiable causes for this present state of inertia. Primarily, The Shadow has been a crucial symbol missing from the dialectic of art throughout history, making the task of the critic all the more difficult to interpret the forms that a holistic art is taking in the 21st century.
Yet, with a splendid multimedia thematic “GOLEM”, the Jewish Museum Berlin takes on the Shadow full force. Curated by the German curator Martina Ludicke and the American curator Emily D. Bilski, who mounted an exhibition on the golem last century in the Jewish Museum New York. Bilski proclaimed the exhibition was a response to the golems that she was encountering in the artist’s studios. Clearly, the Shadow that is denied in both the broken academy and market corrupted international art world is being given its due in the subconscious of the artist by way of the golem.
The Shadow archetype is sourced in the defensive structure of personality tasked with the responsibility to control the onslaught of energy into the psyche. This self-constructed defense is known as ego. As the sole barrier to the psychic flooding of the personality structure, ego is the fortress against the condition commonly known as madness. The task of the mystic is to surrender personality identification to unify with the spirit and therefore provide a 360 perspective beyond the ego.
Yet, mysticism has been banned from western philosophy. For all his efforts to transcend the western identification of self with ego, the 20th century pioneer of the unconscious who followed Nietzsche into the psychic depths was punished with exile. Carl Jung’s transformation into mystic was a direct result of his break with Freud, who associated mysticism with “the occult tide”. The discoverer of the collective unconscious suffered an exile from western philosophy that gave him the freedom to create his own language embracing the universal archetypes and the Shadow.
Today’s leading Kulturindustrie theorist, Dr. Laurence Rickels, has been the pioneering interpreter of the Shadow in academia through his psychoanalysis of the popular genre of the horror film. His penetrating research of the past two decades revealed the vampire to have entered German literature through the Doppelganger figure. German literature’s utilization of the terminology of the doubling for the Shadow associated with the life-draining vampire is significant. This is the external projection that the film medium utilizes so effectively for revealing the internal barrier to human transcendence out of realism. By way of his 2016 entry into social media, a dialogue on his Facebook page drew direct correlation between his terminology of “Vampire Integration” and Shadow integration, thereby creating a direct parallel between the Jungian terminology and that of continental philosophy:
The occult associates ego with Saturn, known as Old Man Time depicted with an hourglass, thereby projecting the inner barrier outward; Saturn is the last planet revolving around the Sun with the Earth that can be seen by the human eye. That the ancient cultures projected this feeling of fate onto the planets (the wanderers) established the art of astrological prediction. Saturn represented the ego boundaries to the transcendental expression of the outer planets that could not be seen, but only felt in fleeting impressions of the spirit. The effect of this energy on the human body is that of time and therefore as fate, i.e. the agonizing feeling that the outcome of events is a result of measures adopted through time reaching a culmination that is beyond human means of control.
We might ask today, under an election cycle of unimaginable cost and distraction from real issues, what is the ego barrier to the transcendental spirit that has offered humans the potential for bliss through a feeling of inner wholeness or completeness? How is it that the American choices to manifest the mythology of the American dream has come down to a life and death duel between two golem figures that are indeed Doppelgangers of one another?
It makes for a remarkable opportunity to bring the dialectic of the Shadow into western art and the western academy at the same time. The first target required the revival of Carl Jung, not as a philosopher or prophet, but as artist, with The Red Book as the centerpiece of the 2013 Venice Biennale. Subsequently, it means revealing Jung’s own process of penetration into the archetypes of the collective unconscious by means of his confrontation with the ego. Once confronted, the Shadow could be named and interpreted as a universal archetype, along with other characters such as the Mother, the Father and the Son.
Heidegger provided the language for a disclosure of an ontology arising out of the instinctual body. But where does the mysterious force of instinct come from? Dark energy/dark matter is the term that science has labeled what was perceived by logos as “empty space”. Science even has a numerical figure for its terminology of the unknown: 96 percent of the universe. The Red Book provides the phenomenology for Jung’s personal propulsion into dark energy from which he created the ontology for a 21st century icon, Self or hieros gamos. To follow a single artist’s journey into the marriage of right/left brain is to understand what Heidegger meant by the disclosing.
Barbara Rachko’s “Black Paintings” give visible power to this realm in both title and imagery. The 4% universe we can see are the figures that POP out of the black in order to dominate the optics of her paintings. This gives form to how much importance is placed on the seen. It devolves as the entire world of perception by humans into an equality with the blackness; together blackground and foreground establish the marriage of left/right brain into a 21st century icon of the hieros gamos. The hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, was Carl Jung’s prophecy.