Wine Soak no.3: Faustian Bargains
In the third of our series, Jacob Ligvine Creek has a out-of-body experience at an opening in the Goethe Institute.
It had been a long while since I wandered through the doors of an exhibition in pursuit of an evenings distraction and last Tuesday I had no intention of engaging with the pursuit of art. I happened to be lying on the grass in Merrion Square soaking up the exquisite evening sunshine, enjoying an unexciting salami sandwich, when I heard the guttural and yet lyrical brogue of two German girls on the path behind me. Just as the Teutonic damsels distracted me, a black poodle ran off with my sorry excuse for a sandwich, so in my emotional and embattled state, the giggles and laughs of the fraulinen and their mention of “Rot-vine’ peaked my curiosity and rescued me from the contemplation of my lost morsel. I leapt to my feet and followed them to the red door of 37 Merrion Square, the Goethe institute, of all places. “What kind of Faustian bargain awaits behind this door,” I thought. Curiosity got the better of me and I crossed the threshold. I automatically felt the possibility of allure and corruption. A table of Parlanbacher, Rheinheissen Pinot Grigio 2010 and Vin de Bordeaux 2010, Lidl’s finest selection, greeted me. It was quiet inside, not many people were there, as the opening had yet to get into full swing.
I read over the press release: Albrecht Schafer in Farbige Schatten (coloured shadows) mit Max Bechmann, Salavador Dali and Eugene Delacroix. “Aren’t many of these men dead?” I thought to myself, “what sort of twisted sick affair of Satan worship is in store?” I immediately fortified myself with a shot of the very palatable Pinot Grigio. A capricious dry white wine that left a bitter coating on the teeth and gums. I read on. The exhibition was a follow on from another exhibition that took place in Lismore Castle that was themed around Goethe’s Faust. As I began to consider pacts with the devil, I felt I was approaching a veritable cross roads. White or red, white or red? Feeling the rising possibilities of glorious temptation I immediately changed to the red. The sweet pangs of regret exploded through my embittered soul as I realised the error of my choice. My overleaping desire to consume the crimson blood of Bacchus was a terrible, terrible act of treachery. The paint stripper completely removed the bitter coating left by the Pinot Grigio, along with most of my tooth enamel. Rather than collapse to my knees cursing god or the devil or whoever may be responsible for this poisonous tug of war that enveloped my entire being, I decided to explore number 37.
In the ground floor room at the back of the house was a white plinth in a darkened space with red, green and blue spotlights defining the different surfaces as separate colour fields. I took a large gulp of the red wine and grimaced. I felt that there must be more to this. Passing the curators Messrs Declan Clarke and Paul McDevitt at the foot of the stairs I found myself ascending to the most unusual of rooms, that great folly of Georgian stairwell architecture: “the return.” The collection of prints on display by Beckman, Dali and Delacroix left me cold, the paper globe lamp left by the contemporary practitioner, Herr Schafer, did nothing to warm me to the works of these long dead ghosts of art history. There was nothing of the bargain, the sense of fate, of a mans soul teetering on the balance between God and the Devil, good and evil, the insatiable spirit of man in the face of the corrupting decadence and counterfeit of rapture offered by that agent of the devil, Mephisto. I wanted more excitement, more stimulation. I wanted to look into the eyes of Mephisto, to look into the infinite abyss of hell. I took another draught from the acrid Bordeaux and wished by the devil there was something more than this dreary gathering of cold dark prints and bilious dirge water.
Feeling forsaken by the unfulfillment of my devilish wish, I descended to find a young beauty with golden flowing locks, rosie cheeks, sapphire eyes and cherry lips sellotaping a sign to the wall. “Exhibition continues,” it read. An arrow pointed downward to the backstairs of number 37. What awaited beyond in the nether regions of this arcane building? I followed the beautiful vision to a lonely and desolate yard. Distracted by the piercing cry of a seagull I looked skyward and in that moment the blonde beauty had vanished. Forlorn and hidden from the setting sun, the evening air was turning distinctly chilly. The solitary cry of the seagull continued calling out above the grey slate roofs. As I was about to abandon this uninviting place, a pale hand beckoned me from a doorway, and knowing no better, I entered into the darkness of an unearthly underworld. A candle was thrust in my hand and I was enveloped in pitch blackness. The sound of my own breathing echoed through the dark chamber. My trembling hands caused the candle flame to flicker. I groped my way alone through the darkness, the candle revealing little of the space that seemed to reach out to an infinity beyond me. Suddenly and without warning my way was obstructed by a venetian blind. A twisted venetian blind unlike any I had ever seen before. What miraculous wonders. I nervously explored the form that emerged, lit only by the pale candle light. Dark, silent. Extraordinary in its simplicity and complex in its geometry. An overwhelming sense of dread filled my soul. I desired to ascend to the light, to return to the sun, that pale disc dying in the evening gloam. I wished to be redeemed, to be saved from that impenetrable pit in which I had found myself. The precious flame was all that stood between me and the horror that lurked there in the nothingness.
Somehow I found the door! My world exploded with light and I knew then that only the globulous wine glass could arrest this dreadful realisation of shear and immediate form.
I had escaped into the air. The most wonderful and refreshing air. What glory, what pleasure, the purity of the light. I supped again of the Bordeaux that tasted to me now as the silver stream of gossamer that flows from the well spring of life. More and more I drank until the whole of number 37 began to swim and rotate around me. A universe spinning upon its axis and still I wanted more … more … more …
Farbige Schatten will run from Wednesday the 28th of March until Friday the 4th of May At the Goethe Institut Irland, 37 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 10am – 8pm, Friday & Saturday 10am – 1:30pm