Burden of Tradition

Artist's Statement

The Cost of Innocence

The Cleansing of the Temple is, without doubt, one of the most compelling moral narratives in The Bible, a moment of high dramatis in which Jesus throws the coin dealers out of a place of worship. It is Jesus’ ‘Indiana Jones’ moment: In John 2:13-16 he makes “a whip of cords,” to drive them from the temple, “And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” Meanwhile in Matthew 21:12-13 “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

And yet it would seem to be the burden of faith that drives the poor to make the clergy rich, despite Jesus’ best efforts. Even todays Vatican, ruled by a Pope who states that he believes in helping the poor, has massive investments in such zones as banking, insurance, chemicals, steel, construction, real estate and much else.

No organized religion has escaped the temptations of wealth. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all drip with gold, at least in their upper echelons. Jeremy Blincoe’s extraordinary video work Burden of Tradition could well be a dramatic illustration of this bane. A richly attired priest-figure stands, at first in silence in the beatific embrace of nature in a pose reminiscent of Bill Viola’s famous 1996 work The Crossing. But as the minutes tick by a deep rumbling sound emerges, a portent as coins begin to rain down, eventually becoming a bruising, crushing torrent.

Born in New Zealand and based in Melbourne, Blincoe studied photography at Massey University in Wellington and went on to hone his craft via advertising photography. The patina of advertising aesthetics remains; he is a bravura technician and perfectionist when it comes to composition, but that is where the influence comes to an end: In fact Blincoe’s interests are the antithesis of those of advertising. Contemplating his subjects, his lighting and his colouration, one becomes immersed in a distinctive world-view saturated with that most dangerous of terms; “spirituality.”

Burden of Tradition is his debut as a video artist and is clearly a precursor to his future direction. Here his religious devotee transforms from a humble figure to a priest king to a deity all with great subtlety. Blincoe is not a gratuitous showman a la Matthew Barney. Nature usually rules his tableaux. But in Burden of Tradition it is the raucous introduction of golden coinage and its accompanying soundtrack that rules. His fascination with humbler subjects, such as nature and belief, in earlier works is put into stark contrast by the lure of wealth, the carnal price of innocence. In his earlier photographic works ritual and nature found odd, essentially pagan, balance. Here, the burden is the excessive, if mysterious, gift of wealth. The cost is the loss of innocence.
– Dr. Ashley Crawford