Andreja Brulc's Blog

Illustration: Simona / Book Cover / Michel Houellebecq

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 01/05/2009

Print Layout 1This embroidery, titled as Simona (2007), is a part of the illustration made for the book The Possibility of an Island by the controversial French author Michel Houellebecq. The illustration closely reflects the narrative of the book, which centres on a cloning cult, preoccupied with a genetic modification and ever-lasting human love without pain and emotion, with a strong belief that the human race can be saved from aging, physical and psychological suffering and dying, through the creation of a new and better one. The main protagonist, Daniel, is a successful misanthrope stand-up comedian, whose “success”, built on politically incorrect jokes about racism, paedophilia and torture, is measured with a luxury villa in Spain and a full bank account. He lives in a hysterical society of unlimited sexual freedom, where there is no space for the ugly, the poor and the weak, or for the old and the dying. He is bored of his hedonist lifestyle but he cannot escape from it. After his two unsuccessful love affairs – with one woman, who does not like sex, and with the other, who does not like love – he seemingly finds immortal earthly pleasures in the sect that believes in advanced extra-terrestrials. Simona

The illustration focuses on the story, told through Daniel (No. 1), a dog and a woman, which is interwoven with commentaries from two clones, Nos. 24 and 25, two thousand years from now. The two clones live in a time – identified by unemotional background (sandpaper) – when the human species is struggling to survive in the face of climate change and nuclear war. Advanced technology and biological science is counterposed by the use of traditional materials and techniques – silhouetting, stitching and sandpaper. The three Daniels are identified by typographical numbers, while the silhouetting of the clones as seemingly identical male figures was to emphasis the genetic modification – the effect achieved by spraying the template of a figure on the sandpaper and then replicating it digitally. I intended to make them seemingly the same and visually receding from the foreground into the distance as if progressing through time and space.

Spraying the figure on the abrasive surface of the sandpaper, the material used in decorative crafts such as for smoothing the wood, was to reinforce a paradox: future genetic modification of human cell, which, on the one hand, is still very much controversial on moral grounds, while, on the other hand, it is a result of the inevitable technological advancement pushing its boundaries and in particular showing a global competition in science between the dominant countries of the developed world. Another tension is demonstrated by the traditional stitching used to outline the fragility of the female in the social order of the book, thus making her more human than her male counterpart, juxtaposed by the image of the dog. In the novel one feels that love between the woman and the man is equated with human love for the pet, shown here by the use of photography as only the dog seems to be real, perhaps a symbol of true love.

Print Layout 1

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