Handfinished Blondie - Heart of Glass - Das Schwerste Gewicht (the heaviest of burdens)

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Handfinished 4 colour screenprint

Signed 1/1

330gsm Fedrigoni paper

70 x 75cm

The Heaviest Burden


Das Schwerste Gewicht” comes from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It literally means “the heaviest of burdens,” and refers to Nietzsche concept of the “eternal return.”

The idea of eternal return has perplexed philosophers: the idea that everything recurs as we once experienced it, ad infinitum. The reasoning behind this form of belief is that the universe is infinite, without a beginning or end, and time itself is cyclical. While most view time as linear, having a distinctive start and stop, yet what if time was not linear and could be bent into a circle? What if, one is reborn, over and over, to relieve one’s life exactly in every pleasurable and painful detail? For the sake of this blog, I do not intend to provide the extensive metaphysical proof for this concept but merely suggest it as a possibility for defining the universe.

The concept of eternal return suggests that a life which disappears once and for all is weightless. Most people tend to hold one life as sacred, as special and unique. However, this concept of eternal return suggests that something which does not repeat itself, whether the life was horrible, beautiful, its horror and beauty mean nothing. Doesn’t this distress you? Do you not feel afraid of this concept? Most do. If every second of our lives is doomed to be repeated, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross.

Nietzsche himself created this analogy:

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'

Back to das schwerste Gewicht. Nietzsche called this eternal return “the heaviest of burdens” because in the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lays on every move we make. But is this really so terrifying? Is lightness truly admirable over heaviness? Heaviness gives our lives meaning, it keeps us from floating around in life without purpose, without meaning. It keeps us connected to the earth, our origin and source of our strength. In the era of love poetry, the woman longs to be pinned down by a man’s body. Conversely, lightness allows man to become half real, almost angelic. Take leave of his earthly body and soar among the splendor of the sky. Which one shall we choose? Lightness of heaviness?

Pure Evil explains that a chance email from a Chinese “copy village” gave impetus to his “Nightmare Series.” The village offered, via email, a list of artists it could reproduce, including three small jpeg images of Andy Warhol paintings. Warhol’s entire artistic output has been distilled right down to three small 64 x64 pixel thumbnails of Jackie Kennedy, Liz Taylor and an Electric Chair and this became the inspiration for a series of 'Nightmares' : doomed and dripping celebrity portraits. Why are they crying ? “Its an illustration of the heartbreak and sadness we have all experienced in relationships in the past.”